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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Renews Vow To Keep Chechnya

President Boris Yeltsin said Monday that a mutually acceptable agreement should be reached with the republic of Chechnya, but he ruled out any treaty based on "interstate'' equality.


Meeting with Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, Yeltsin said he was aware of the difficulties in talks on resolving the political status of the independent-minded Moslem republic.


"Of course I know that these talks are going on with difficulty,'' Yeltsin said, according to Itar-Tass. "They have their own variant of the treaty, an interstate one, but this will not happen.''


Chechnya's status remains unclear following its 1994-1996 independence war against Russia. Weekend talks in Moscow failed to produce any progress, and the positions of the sides were still far apart.


"The delegations clearly set out their positions, although there were no noticeable moves to get closer,'' said the Chechen delegation chief and the republic's first deputy prime minister, Movladi Udugov, after the talks.


Udugov, in an apparent reference to Yeltsin and Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, said Saturday that senior state officials must meet so as "to give a new impulse to the dialogue between Russia and Chechnya,'' Interfax reported.


Rybkin, in turn, said such a meeting might indeed take place, since "the problem is quite complex.''


"The main thing today is not to slide to the path of war again,'' the security chief said Saturday.


Yeltsin stressed Monday that Russia envisaged a treaty of the kind the Kremlin has with Tatarstan, Bashkiria and other republics in the Russian Federation.


Boris Nemtsov, Russia's first deputy prime minister, said Monday that Chechnya must remain in Russia and cannot be allowed to dictate Kremlin policy.


Nemtsov said that if Chechnya was able to secede, it would become a haven of banditry and drug trafficking.


"Russia will lose even a hypothetical possibility of controlling the situation in Chechnya,'' he said, according to Interfax.


Addressing students at a Moscow high school, Nemtsov explained Russia's plans to bypass Chechnya and build a new stretch of oil pipeline that goes around the restive territory. Workers are currently repairing a key oil pipeline that runs across Chechnya on its way to Russia's Black Sea coast.


"If they behave well, we shall transport oil through this [Chechen] pipeline,'' he said, according to Itar-Tass. "If they don't, you know what will happen.''


Nemtsov said Russia was a great country and could not be dependent on the whims of Chechnya's leaders, "at least as regards the transportation of oil, electric power and freight.''


He said that if the republic was successful in seceding, "Chechnya will have to be encircled with barbed wire. Checkpoints and customs posts will have to be set up and provocations expected from Chechens.''


Chechnya has been running its own affairs since the Russian troop withdrawal last year, but there has been some cooperation on projects such as the reconstruction of the pipeline.