Chechen war on hold for VE Day
Wednesday 26 April 1995
The Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, told reporters yesterday that a presidential decree was imminent "imposing a moratorium on military activity in Chechnya for the period of the celebrations".
Despite calls by Russian human rights activists for the West to boycott the anniversary as a Chechnya protest, 50 states, including Britain, are sending leaders to Russia on 8-9 May as a mark of respect. The country suffered the heaviest losses at the hands of the Nazis.
But Nato members, and the United States in particular, have made clear that Chechnya remains a sensitive subject for them and they do not wish to be seen to be endorsing the Russian crackdown. Thus it is important for Mr Yeltsin to sweep the crisis under the carpet, at least for the time being.
It remains to be seen whether he will be able to. True, the Russian army, which in February reduced the city of Grozny to rubble reminiscent of Stalingrad, now controls almost all lowland Chechnya. But as recently as this weekend, Russian troops were still fighting Chechen rebels for control of villages at the gateway to the mountains from which the Muslim fighters have vowed to conduct a guerrilla war.
There is no guarantee that the Chechens will respect Mr Yeltsin's moratorium and clashes could break out while the Western leaders are here.
However the Chechens behave, Moscow is determined to give a good impression. The Russian capital is being spruced up a with vigour not seen since the Soviet Union hosted the Olympic Games in 1980. (Then many Western countries boycotted Moscow over Russia's invasion of Afghanistan.)
Flags and posters are going up, faades are being painted and the concrete is drying on a statue of the Soviet Union's wartime commander, Marshal Zhukov, to be unveiled near Red Square. The workers who at the weekend laid fresh asphalt down Leningradsky Prospekt - the road leading from the airport - wasted their time, however. Late last night a seemingly endless column of tanks and rocket-carriers churned up the highway after a rehearsal for one of two parades scheduled for 9 May.
President Bill Clinton will not see the tanks, as he and other Western leaders have chosen to attend the less overtly militaristic of the parades. But no doubt foreign defence attachs will be making copious notes, as they always used to do at the old Red Square parades of the Soviet era.
n Mr Chernomyrdin said yesterday that he was launching a new political party to contest December's parliamentary elections. Success could give him a springboard to try for the presidency next year. The Prime Minister is popular because, unlike other politicians around Mr Yeltsin, he has distanced himself from the Chechen war.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...