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Chernomyrdin says Chechen Peace Process in Danger

Moscow, July 17 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said today that the peace process in Chechnya is in danger.

Our correspondent quotes Russian government officials as saying that Chernomyrdin made the comment during today's meeting of the state commission on Chechnya which he heads.

His remark follows the discovery of the corpses of three civilians 28 Kms southwest of the capital Grozny and the killing yesterday of 13 other people in Grozny itself. Chechen residents blame the deaths on Russian troops. Chernomyrdin called on Moscow-backed Chechen and Russian officials to investigate both incidents.

Chernomyrdin told the commission that after June 4, when Russian and Chechen negotiators had agreed to a cease fire and a prisoner exchange, Chechen separatist fighters did not carry out military operations against Russian troops.

However, Chernomyrdin said Chechen rebels, including their leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, were responsible for new violence in Chechnya. Chernomyrdin said Yandarbiyev was not in control of the situation.

New Russian security chief Alexander Lebed and newly appointed head of the Russian Federal security service Nikolai Kovalyov attended today's meeting. The state commission said it would adopt new political measures to settle the Chechen conflict as soon as possible. No details on what those measures would be have yet emerged.