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Russia: Chechen President Criticizes Oil Contract

Grozny, 2 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov today accused federal Russian officials of duplicity and he blamed them for the failure to sign a key pipeline contract to transport oil across the separatist republic.

Maskhadov made the statement in the Chechen capital Grozny just as talks on the issue between Chechen and Russian federal officials were scheduled to begin in the Black sea resort of Dagomys.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin said Russia must compromise with the Chechens, who are demanding higher transit fees for oil going through their section of the pipeline.

Earlier today, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin threatened to find another route for the transfer of oil from the Caspian Sea to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk if Chechnya continues to insist on high transit fees.