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Russian-Chechen Peace Talks Continue In 'Tense' Atmosphere

Nazran, June 5 (RFE/RL) - Russian and Chechen separatist negotiators are continuing a second-day of peace talks, amid, what both sides are now calling, a "tense" atmosphere.

The talks are in Nazran, capital of Ingushetia, which neighbors Chechnya. They follow last Monday's ceasefire agreement between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev.

Russian delegate Sergei Slipchenko said today that the atmosphere at the negotiations, described as warm yesterday, had become tense.

Another Russian delegate Vladimir Zorin said there are points of agreement, in particular on an exchange of prisoners of war and forcibly detained people. But he acknowledged there was disagreement. Chechen separatist spokesman Movladi Udugov said the talks were difficult but expressed hope that an agreement could still be reached.

He was also quoted by Itar-Tass as criticizing Chechen separatist Vice-President Said-Khassan Abumuslimov for earlier statements. Udugov said Abumuslimov is not a member of the present Chechen separatist negotiating team and had acted incorrectly by showing reporters a copy of a protocol that the separatists plan to present to the Russians.

Western news agencies had reported the document calls for the fate of Chechnya to be decided by the Chechen people, but stopped short of demanding independence. The document reportedly demands a Russian troop withdrawal from the republic by July 1. It also called for the postponement of local elections slated for June 16.

Interfax quotes an unidentified Chechen separatist negotiator as warning of all-out war if the elections are not cancelled.