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Chechnya: Yeltsin Will Not Discuss Ceasefire With Lebed Today

Moscow, 23 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- President Boris Yeltsin will not meet his security chief Aleksandr Lebed today, the Kremlin has announced. Lebed said he was expecting a meeting with Yeltsin this morning to report on the ceasefire agreement he concluded yesterday with Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov.

Yeltsin was waiting to receive written reports from Lebed on what progress he has made in settling the conflict in Chechnya and the results of his talks with the separatists, according to Itar-Tass.

The statement said only that the meeting was not on Yeltsin's agenda for today.

Yeltsin said yesterday in a recorded televised interview that he was not entirely satisfied with Lebed's work in Chechnya. It was unclear, however, if Yeltsin had been informed of the ceasefire agreement when he made the statement.

Yeltsin recently gave Lebed sweeping powers and ordered him to end the 20-month conflict in Chechnya.

Meanwhile, the commander of Russian troops in Chechnya, Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, is meeting today with Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov to discuss the implementation of the cease fire agreement effective in the breakaway republic this morning.

Itar-Tass reports that the meeting is taking place in the village of Novye Atagi, south of Grozny, where Maskhadov and Russia's Security chief Aleksandr Lebed concluded the agreement yesterday.

Chechen separatist spokesman Movladi Udugov said earlier the meeeting would focus on the details of the truce aimed at separating and withdrawing the warring sides from the Chechen capital. He said Tikhomirov and Maskhadov also would discuss the formation of joint patrols to maintain order in Grozny.

The RFE/RL correspondent in Chechnya says the ceasefire is so far being generally observed from both sides and the situation in Grozny as well as across the breakaway republic remains quiet today.

Representatives of military commands of both sides met earlier in Grozny. They discussed a detailed scheme of withdrawal of troops from Chechnya's southern mountain areas of Vedeno, Nozhai-Yurt by Monday, August 26, and Shatoi by Thursday, August 29, to areas surrounding the Chechen capital.

Lebed said yesterday he would return to Chechnya in two days with a draft of a political deal for the settlement of the conflict. Udugov today told RFE/RL that a compromise solution on the main stumbling block of the future status of Chechnya is possible.

Udugov said the compromise solution "would not damage the territorial integrity of Russia," but he did not elaborate further.