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Chechnya: Chernomyrdin Approves Chechen Peace Plan


Moscow, 2 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin today gave his approval to the peace plan signed this weekend between Russian national security chief Aleksandr Lebed and separatist Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov.

The National Security Council issued a statement saying Chernomyrdin, who was briefed by Lebed in Moscow today, evaluated the deal as a "success." This was the first official Russian reaction to the agreement, which commits Moscow to withdraw its troops from the republic in exchange for a five-year delay in a decision on Chechnya's final status.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin's press service says Yeltsin met Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin today to discuss the Chechen peace deal. The two met at the Rus hunting lodge outside Moscow where Yeltsin is currently said to be vacationing.

Earlier today, a top aide said the Russian president had undergone a series of routine medical checks over the weekend and remained "in control of affairs."

Yeltsin has not been seen in public for several days, fueling new rumors about his health, which have been repeatedly denied by the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, in Chechnya today, the Russian command and separatist representatives signed a final agreement confirming the withdrawal of both sides' troops from the capital, Grozny. The Russian side has withdrawn over 5,000 men from Grozny in the past few days while the separatists have withdrawn over 4,300 fighters.

Nevertheless, tensions remain. Separatist chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov warned in an interview published by the Czech newspaper "Lidove noviny" today that every last Russian soldier must leave Grozny. Maskhadov warned that two Russian brigades which remain on permanent duty in the city must be removed or they will be attacked.
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