Moscow, 25 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russian president Boris Yeltsin's Communist foes today said they may try to impeach him over his order to pull the last Russian troops out of Chechnya.
Viktor Ilyukhin, a prominent Communist who chairs the State Duma's Security Committee, told Interfax news agency today that "we are witnessing the beginning of Russia's breakup." He said that this is sufficient to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.
Yeltsin last week ordered the last two Russian brigades out of breakaway Chechnya by the end of January. His hard-line opponents, once strong critics of the war, now are outraged at what they say looks like a final admission of Russian defeat.
Parliament has scheduled a special session on Chechnya for Friday. The pro-reform "Yabloko" faction has accused the communists of trying to sabotage peace in Chechnya. Previous impeachment moves against Yeltsin have failed.
Yeltsin's withdrawal order paved the way for the signing Saturday of an accord on Russian-Chechen relations until Chechen elections scheduled for January 27. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who signed the accord for Russia and Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin were invited to testify before the Duma on Friday.
Rybkin today defended the deal, but admitted it has critics even within the administration. He said the defense minister is in favor of the pullout, but the interior minister had doubts about it. According to Rybkin, Russia and Chechnya will have normalized their relations by the year 2001, concluding a number of power-sharing agreements following the guidelines of accords already existing between Moscow and other Russian regions and republics.
Col. Gen. Anatoly Shkirko, commander of Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya, expressed skepticism about whether Chechen separatists would really lay down their arms once Russian troops left. He said it will take two months to withdraw about half the troops still there.