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Russia: Chechens Say Foreigners Dissuaded From Attending Inauguration

Grozny, 12 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Chechen official says Russia is trying to dissuade foreign dignitaries from attending tomorrow's presidential inauguration of Aslan Maskhadov.

Lema Usmanov, an organizer for the ceremony, told AFP that Moscow had convinced Morrocan officials not to attend the event in Grozny. Usmanov said a Ukrainian delegation made up of parliamentarians had also been prevented from landing in Russia. Our correspondent says Moscow denied the Ukrainians a landing at Grozny's airport because they said the facility could not accomodate large aircraft.

Yesterday, a Lithuanian parliamentary delegation was prevented from traveling to Chechnya. The Lithuanians said the Russian embassy in Vilnius said no visa would be given to the delegation. No reason for the denial was given.

Russia's foreign ministry has said it would consider the attendance by foreign officials at Maskhadov's inauguration a hostile act.