Grozny, 17 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The Chechen separatist leadership today sharply attacked Russia's Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov and said he is trying to disrupt peace efforts in Chechnya.
Separatist chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov told RFE/RL in Grozny that Kulikov's accusation yesterday, alleging that Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed is attempting to seize power with the help of some 1,500 Chechen fighters amounts, as he put it "to a provocation and a lie."
Kulikov "has always been against a peace settlement in Chechnya and aims to provoke the resumption of military operations," said Maskhadov.
And Chechen spokesman Movladi Udugov told RFE/RL that separatists are ready to cooperate with Lebed and any other Russian politician in the settlement of the Chechen conflict. But Udugov protested against attempts to use what he called "the Chechen card in Russian political infighting."
On August 31, Maskhadov and Lebed signed a peace deal providing for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, the disarmament of Chechen fighters and a five-year postponement of a decision on Chechnya's future status.
Kulikov has said the accord amounts to treason.
Russian news agencies quoted Maskhadov as saying that the separatist leadership is anxiously awaiting the outcome of the power struggle between Kulikov and Lebed. He said if "the party of war" prevails in Moscow, the separatist leadership "will have to be ready to continue fighting."