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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechnya's President Facing Call to Resign

A key organization of Chechen warlords will this week call on Chechnya's president to step down, the separatist republic's former acting prime minister said Monday.

Former acting Prime Minister Shamil Basayev was quoted by Interfax as saying that the Council of Commanders will insist at its congress in Grozny on Tuesday and Wednesday that Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov resign.

The council includes Basayev, defiant field commander Salman Raduyev, Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov and influential politicians such as Ruslan Gelayev and Khunkar Israpilov.

Basayev, who served as Maskhadov's prime minister earlier this year, has recently joined others pushing for the president's ouster.

Maskhadov turned down the demands for his resignation over the weekend, saying that he "rejects the language of ultimatums and doesn't intend to respond to letters of people who are guilty of breaking the law,'' the report said.

On Monday, the president said his government would publicly execute kidnappers to stop a crime wave that has swept the republic, Itar-Tass reported.

Speaking on national television, Maskhadov claimed foreign secret services were behind the Chechen gangs responsible for frequent kidnappings in the region, the news agency reported. He did not identify the secret services.

Meanwhile, the abductors of Russia's presidential envoy to Chechnya, Valentin Vlasov, said Monday they are ready to release him in exchange for Doku Zavgayev, who headed Chechnya's pro-Moscow government during the republic's 1994-96 independence war with Russia, Interfax reported.

Chechnya has seen an increase in kidnappings, theft, and violence among armed gangs, Moslem sects and ethnic groups since the war. Maskhadov's attempts to rein in crime have brought little result.

Maskhadov's government has also encountered growing opposition from Chechen warlords, who have refused to obey his orders.

Basayev said the council believes that Maskhadov has violated the Chechen Constitution. "Maskhadov stepped aside from the basic principles in our constitution. He actually usurped local media and took control of the courts. We are also accusing the president of violating the rights and freedoms of Chechen citizens," Interfax quoted him as saying.

Basayev said Maskhadov's resignation will not lead to destabilization of the situation in Chechnya, because none of Chechnya's field commanders would attempt to seize power unconstitutionally.

The Council of Commanders also disapproves of Maskhadov's position on Russian-Chechen relations, Interfax said. "The Chechen leadership should end every contact with Moscow because this is a totally useless process," Basayev said. "Chechnya should develop its independence instead of trying to convince Russia of the obvious."

Chechnya claims to be a sovereign nation, but Moscow says it remains a part of Russia. No country has recognized Chechnya's independence bid.

Despite his fight for independence, Russia considers Maskhadov a moderate and has been willing to negotiate with him.