Moscow, 19 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Chechnya's veteran separatist spokesman Movladi Udugov had been named head of a new six-man team to negotiate the republic's political status with Russia.
Itar tass news agency said the appointment was made by the newly-elected Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov following a meeting today in the capital Grozny with political and military leaders.
Also named to the team are Khodzh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, who heads an oil company and has long been associated with the independence struggle and the former commander and culture minister Akhmed Zakayev.
The peace accord which ended the war with Russia last year deferred a decision on Chechnya's independence bid for up to five years. But Chechens insist the republic is already a sovereign state.
Meanwhile in Moscow correspondents say Russian President Boris Yeltsin is expected to name his negotiating team shortly. Interfax news agency says security council secretary Ivan Rybkin will likely be put in charge.