IWPR: Chechen plan hammered out
- Chechen Plan Hammered Out
The recent discussions in Liechtenstein on the future of Chechnya
were the most serious attempt yet to forge a compromise between the
By Sanobar Shermatova in Moscow (CRS No.144, 30-Aug-02)
A recent meeting in the duchy of Liechtenstein on Chechnya saw
prominent Russians and pro-independence and pro-Moscow Chechens go
some way to burying their differences, as they laid out a compromise
plan for the war-torn republic.
While it is too early to say whether the August 16-19 talks will bear
any fruit - it had no official backing in the Kremlin - it was the
strongest indication yet of a growing desperation for peace amongst
different parties in the Chechen conflict, who have in the past held
radically different views.
The gathering took - organised in part by the American Committee for
Peace in Chechnya, two of his whose co-chairmen are the prominent
American politicians Zbigniew Brzezinski and Alexander Haig - took
place over three days in a small mountain village in Liechtenstein
and was financed by the government of the duchy.
The committee felt the time was ripe for such a dialogue,
particularly as many Chechens with previously divergent views, all of
them horrified by the continuing bloodshed at home, have been coming
together in Moscow. "There's a lot of rapprochement going on among
the Chechens in Moscow," said Glen Howard, executive director of the
Some reports of the talks have appeared in the Russian press - what
follows is a detailed account based on information gleaned from
participants at the meeting, who do not wish to be identified.
Amongst the delegates from Moscow were two former speakers of the
Russian parliament, Ivan Rybkin and the Chechen Ruslan Khasbulatov
and two parliamentary deputies, the well-known journalist Yury
Shchekochikhin and the Chechen Aslambek Aslakhanov.
Representing rebel president Aslan Maskhadov was his deputy prime
minister Akhmed Zakayev. (Zakayev continues to represent Maskhadov
abroad, while his new special negotiator Kazbek Makhashev is
apparently talking directly to the Russians).
The participants did not intend to make the substance of the three-
day meeting public, but a controversy over the involvement of the
Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky pushed it into the spotlight.
Berezovsky, who took a lead in formulating Moscow's policy in
Chechnya in 1997-9, has or had close links with many of the
participants in the meeting. After a bitter falling-out with the
Putin administration, he now lives in London.
So when Alexander Goldfarb, a lawyer close to Berezovsky, turned up
in Liechtenstein and said he was representing the magnate, the
organisers asked him to leave. He did - but only after a protracted
argument. The others were afraid that a link with Berezovsky would
devalue their meeting in Moscow. Goldfarb was more closely involved
in a separate meeting between Rybkin and Zakayev in Zurich.
As the participants got down to business, they discussed two peace
plans for Chechnya, the "Khasbulatov Plan", drawn up by Ruslan
Khasbulatov last month, and the "Brzezinski Plan", outlined in an
article by Brzezinski and Haig in the Washington Post in June. At the
end of the meeting, they agreed to merge the two into
a "Liechtenstein Plan" incorporating elements of both - although
disagreements remained on two key issues.
Khasbulatov's plan for Chechnya is based on the idea of giving
it "special status" with international guarantees provided by the
OSCE and the Council of Europe. It would be free to conduct of both
its own internal and foreign policy, with the exception of those
functions it voluntarily delegated to the Russian Federation.
However, the republic would remain within Russian administrative
borders and keep Russian citizenship and currency. The main guarantee
of peace would be the demilitarisation of the republic, while
maintaining Russian border guards on the southern frontier.
Much discussion was given to the delicate issue of an international
presence - whether of peacekeepers or monitors - in Chechnya. One of
the Americans canvassed the views of the four visitors from Moscow on
this. Their replies differed: one of them conceded the possibility,
while another organiser said categorically that Moscow would never
agree to it.
Maskhadov's representative, Akhmed Zakayev, was besieged with
questions. The others wanted him to explain the behaviour of
Maskhadov, who while constantly calling for peace talks with Moscow,
had also appointed Shamil Basayev - a man subject to an international
arrest warrant - his deputy in his "state defence council"?
If Maskhadov's supporters were so keen on peaceful dialogue, could
they also unilaterally free 29 captive Russian soldiers as a good
will gesture? Zakayev was asked. If this happened after the meeting,
he was told, it would definitely strengthen the case for negotiations
and demonstrate that Maskhadov was genuinely seeking peace. And why
did Maskhadov give orders to kill those Chechens who were working for
the pro-Moscow administration and police? Surely that just worsened
the situation and sucked more and more Chechens into blood feuds.
The others present immediately felt that Zakayev did not like these
questions. He answered in a brusque and categorical manner. He said
that Maskhadov had got close to Basayev again for propaganda reasons -
to show Moscow that he controlled all his field commanders. There
would be no good will gestures and the soldiers would remain in
captivity. The national traitors who served Kadyrov would suffer
punishment. And, said Zakayev to the Moscow guest asking the
question, "What kind of Chechen are you?"
However, it seemed that the organisers liked hearing these questions
put to Maskhadov's envoy. After the meeting, one of them said the
exchange had been very useful, as these were the topics, which would
come up in official negotiations with Moscow. The Russians are
vitally interested in how flexible Maskhadov and his supporters are
prepared to be.
After three days, a common version of the two peace plans was
hammered out. However there was no agreement on two important points,
which were dropped from the compromise plan: a model for Chechen
autonomy based on the republic of Tatarstan and the idea of deploying
Russian troops on Chechnya's southern frontier.
The Kremlin has kept silent about the Liechtenstein meeting, which
might be construed as a sign of progress. After a similar gathering
last year in Zurich, Moscow instantly issued statements saying that
the Duma deputies who had attended it had gone on their own
initiative. Other deputies who were planning to attend the talks
received phone calls from the Kremlin, warning them not to go.
This time, it was different. Possibly, they realised that it was
pointless to make loud denunciations and will wait and see what
Aslakhanov, the deputy head of the State Duma's commission on
Chechnya, reports to his colleagues.
However, there is no sign as yet that the Kremlin will use either
Rybkin or Khasbulatov as negotiators on Chechnya.
For the moment, Putin is pursuing his own track of laying the ground
for a constitutional referendum in Chechnya in November, with new
elections for the head of the republic six months after that.
Sanobar Shermatova is a correspondent with Moscow News. Thomas de
Waal, IWPR's Caucasus Editor in London, also contributed to this
> Khasbulatov's plan for Chechnya is based on the idea of givingA country under the siege of 80,000 troops cannot delegate anything volunta=
> it "special status" with international guarantees provided by the
> OSCE and the Council of Europe. It would be free to conduct of both
> its own internal and foreign policy, with the exception of those
> functions it voluntarily delegated to the Russian Federation.
rily. During Soviet times about the same amount of troops was stationed in =
Hungary from 1945 till 1989. There was no voluntarily delegated functions, =
all was taken by the Russians. In its culmination in 1956, Andropov decided=
everything including the fate of Hungarian opposite leaders - they were "vo=
luntarily" executed. In paper Hungary was independent, but anyone who lived=
that time knows that everything was ordered from the KGB office stationed i=
n Budapest. Same thing for Poland, Chechoslovakia, DDR. Only Romania was s=
omewhat different, because there was no Russian troops stationed there. Bot=
tom line as long as the borders are monitored by the Russians, you cannot sp=
eak of "free to conduct of both its own internal and foreign policy"
>Chechens cannot be Russian citizens. Chechens should have Chechen citizens=
> However, the republic would remain within Russian administrative
> borders and keep Russian citizenship and currency.
hip. They can keep the currency, but why. If they cannot have their own, t=
hey should adopt the euro. Russia will heve euro also in the next 10 years =
if they want to be serious about westernization and "belonging to the europe=
The main guarantee
> of peace would be the demilitarisation of the republic, whileYou cannot have one sided demilitarization. Then it is not demilitarizatio=
> maintaining Russian border guards on the southern frontier.
n but rather military occupation and then we are where we were in the last 3=
>If Chechnya is taken out from the Russian administration de facto or de jur=
> Much discussion was given to the delicate issue of an international
> presence - whether of peacekeepers or monitors - in Chechnya. One of
> the Americans canvassed the views of the four visitors from Moscow on
> this. Their replies differed: one of them conceded the possibility,
> while another organiser said categorically that Moscow would never
> agree to it.
e - as the Financial Times hinted -, they have nothing to say on it. Then o=
f course Russian border guards on the southern borders are not needed too.
> After three days, a common version of the two peace plans wasChechnya can be part of Russia immediately when Russia announces that she T=
> hammered out. However there was no agreement on two important points,
> which were dropped from the compromise plan: a model for Chechen
> autonomy based on the republic of Tatarstan and the idea of deploying
> Russian troops on Chechnya's southern frontier.
RUSTS the Chechens to defend Chechnya borders from the south or from the nor=
th and as a good will gesture withdraws all of her military from Chechnya. =
Let's give Chechnya the de facto rights immediately and start to negotiate t=
he de jure ones, that is null your three years aggression and pick it up at =
Khasavyurt. Any other options are doomed to fail.