Chechen peace plan on the brink
Friday 12 April 1996
Fears are growing among Mr Yeltsin's liberal supporters that hardliners in the Russian military are ignoring his peace initiative altogether, and are pushing on with the war in the belief that they can win it.
These concerns were fuelled yesterday by a burst of belligerent rhetoric from the commander of the Russian Interior Ministry troops, General Anatoly Shkirko, who declared that Dzhokhar Dudayev's Chechen fighters must either give up their weapons or be "smashed". The matter could not be settled "half way", he told Interfax news agency.
The general made clear that attempts to crush the rebels would come under the category of "special operations", which the president has decided to continue, despite calling a halt to large-scale military action when he unveiled his peace initiative on 31 March.
"Special operations", however, appears to be a catch-all phrase which the Russian military is using to justify a range of activities. In the last 11 days, there has been little sign of the "peace and tranquillity" which Mr Yeltsin promised, but plenty of bloodshed.
At least 15 villages have come under air, artillery or infantry attack. According to Chechen rebel supporters, 10 people died when a bomb exploded underneath a dais where the rebel commander, Aslan Maskhadov, was due to speak. More than 100 Russian federal troops, and an unknown number of Chechens, have died.
One village, Shalazhi, was bombed on the day after its elders signed a peace accord with the Russians and the Moscow-backed Chechen government - although this was denied by the commander of the Russian Air Force, Pyotr Deinekin. He made the astonishing claim that the bombs were not the work of his jets, but of "provocateurs" who had placed "special depth charges" in the village.
The continuation of hostilities, and the failure of the Russian authorities to provide any reliable information about its activities in Chechnya, is feeding pessimism that Russia has seen the last of the 16-month conflict in which at least 30,000 have died. Yesterday the Russian newspaper Segodnya declared that Mr Yeltsin's initiative was already "on the skids".
This diagnosis coincided with a warning from the governor of Nizhny Novgorod, Boris Nemstov, one of the country's best-known liberals, that the hawks around Mr Yeltsin, both in the military and within the Kremlin, could be propelling him to electoral defeat.
"The part of Yeltsin's entourage which toys with illusions about the possibility of victory not only leaves no chance for Yeltsin to implement his peace plan but also makes his defeat in the coming election possible," he said.
The only glimmer of hope is that General Dudayev appears to be willing to accept Mr Yeltsin's offer of mediated talks, despite his preference for direct negotiations with the president himself. Striking an unusually conciliatory note, he described Mr Yeltsin as "the least culpable" of senior Russian officials, and blamed "red-brown" forces in his administration for undermining his policy.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Kim Jong-un proves 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...