Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechnya Rejects Russia's Offer of Autonomy

Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov dismissed Russia's latest offer of broad autonomy for the rebel republic, reasserting that Chechnya does not want to be part of the Russian state.

"Never in my life shall I sign a document which implies dependence on Russia," Maskhadov said in remarks cited Tuesday by Interfax. "Nobody in [Chechnya] would allow me to do that."

Chechnya, a small Moslem republic in southern Russia, considers itself a sovereign state following its 1994-96 independence war in which Russian forces suffered a humiliating defeat.

Moscow says Chechnya is and shall remain part of Russia. A peace treaty signed last year, however, left Chechnya's status undecided, and the republic has been running its own affairs.

The Kremlin is offering Chechnya what it calls "maximum autonomy" within Russia. Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin last week offered it an "associated membership" in the Russian Federation.

Maskhadov, the top rebel military commander during the war, said he was prepared for extremely close cooperation with Moscow, but only on condition that Chechnya be recognized as an independent state. No nation has recognized Chechnya's claim of independence.

Maskhadov also welcomed President Boris Yeltsin's stated plans to visit Chechnya.

Yeltsin, he said, has been misinformed about the situation in Chechnya but is starting to realize that force and military methods would not help in resolving the Chechen problem.