Republics call for Chechnya pull-out

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Moscow - Leaders of some of Russia's constituent republics yesterday called on President Boris Yeltsin to halt the intervention in Chechnya. "In connection with events in the Chechen republic, we must try to influence federal policy and to reverse the current trends," said Nikolai Fyodorov, president of the autonomous republic of Chuvashia.

He and six other leaders of central Russian republics gathered in the Chuvash capital of Cheboksary, on the Volga, to discuss the Chechen crisis. After the meeting the leaders demanded that President Yeltsin stop the military action and begin negotiations.

Last year saw most of Russia's unruly regions calm down after the Kremlin agreed to delegate more powers to local leaders. For example, the republic of Tatarstan, the most secessionist-minded Russia's region after Chechnya, signed a treaty with Moscow, getting more independence in the economic and political fields. Now Tatartstan fears these freedoms might be taken back. "The Chechen crisis threatens democracy and integrity of Russia in a broad sense of the word," President Mintimer Shaimiyev, of Tatarstan, told Komsomolskaya Pravda. He said the Kremlin lacked a national policy that would win the trust of the Russian people.