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Chechnya: Military Commander Praises Lebed During Political Congress


Grozny, 10 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Chechen separatist military commander, Aslan Maskhadov, today praised efforts by Russia's security chief, Aleksandr Lebed, to bring peace to Chechnya.

Maskhadov, who was chairing a congress of Chechen political parties and movements in the Chechen capital, Grozny, said he believed that Lebed's efforts to resolve the conflict were sincere.

"Lebed was not stained by the blood of the Chechen war and was not among those who had made personal gain from it," he said.

The congress, attended by a broad range of Chechen groups, focused on attempts to form a new coalition government in Chechnya.

But representatives of the Moscow-backed Chechen administration, headed by Doku Zavgayev, boycotted the meeting.

Zavgayev said his supporters would hold their own congress next week in the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala. He told Itar Tass that the meeting on September 18 would be aimed at stabilizing the situation in the North Caucuses and Chechnya.

Separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was also absent from today's congress. He has agreed to include at ministerial level at least three members of the Moscow-backed administration in a new coalition government.

Zavgayev told Interfax news agency today that none of his supporters would ever agree to enter a coalition with the separatists.
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