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Pro-Moscow Chechen Government Decides on Election, Despite Accord

Grozny, June 12 (RFE/RL) -- The Pro-Moscow Chechen government decided today to hold elections to the Chechen republican parliament on Sunday, simultaneously with Russian presidential elections. The decision undermines a peace agreement between Chechen separatists and the Kremlin.

Chechen separatists insisted that local elections should be postponed at peace talks on Monday. The two sides at that time recommended to hold the ballot at a later date.

The agreement stipulated that the vote would be preceded by the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and by the disarmament of the separatists, both to be completed by the end of August.

But the Moscow-backed government decided during a meeting in Grozny today to hold elections on Sunday, as planned. Government spokesman Ruslan Martagov said the pro-Moscow Chechen government will not postpone the elections "under any conditions."

But it is not clear to which extent other pro-Moscow Chechen authorities support the government's decision. The Interfax news agency reports that the presidium of the Moscow-backed Chechen parliament has voted to postpone the local election, but to procede with the Russian presidential poll on Sunday.

Parliament itself has not voted on the issue.

Pro-Moscow Chechen Prime Minister Nikolay Koshman told the Itar-Tass news agency that Russian President Boris Yeltsin supported the government's decision to hold elections on Sunday. He said the information came in a telephone conversation between Yeltsin and pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgayev. And Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said in Moscow that the parliamentary ballot is an internal Chechen affair.