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Chechnya: Yeltsin To See Peace Plan; Ceasefire Extended

Moscow, 27 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Aides of Russian President Boris Yeltsin have asked national security chief Aleksandr Lebed for a written summary of his proposed Chechen peace plan. In Chechnya, commanders from both sides today signed an accord reinforcing the six-day ceasefire.

Documents containing a "comprehensive plan" and an account of Lebed's weekend talks with separatist leaders will be given to Yeltsin's staff this evening, a Lebed spokeswoman said.

Yeltsin aides say the Russian President is vacationing at a dacha near Moscow today. Lebed has been meeting with top Russian officials to brief them on Chechnya. He met yesterday with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, but he has not yet seen Yeltsin. In another development, a top Lebed aide has denounced as an "open-faced lie" today's accusations by pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgayev that Lebed had staged a "coup d'etat" in the breakaway republic.

Itar-Tass quoted Lebed press secretary Aleksandr Barkhatov as saying Lebed was not acting alone since Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin were aware of "all of Lebed's plans."

Barkhatov said Zavgayev was only trying to shield himself and his cabinet and distract attention from the fact that he had done "nothing to resolve the situation in the republic."

Earlier today, Zavgayev bitterly denounced Lebed's peace initiative at a press conference in the Russian capital. He lashed out against Lebed, whom he called an "odious envoy." Zavgayev added that Lebed was responsible for the Russian defeat in Grozny earlier this month, when separatists overran the Chechen capital.

Zavgayev, along with most of his cabinet, has taken refuge in Moscow. The pro-Moscow Chechen administration has been completely sidelined in recent Russian-separatist negotiations. Chechen separatists consider Zavgayev and his government traitors. Meanwhile, in Chechnya, the commander of Russian forces in Chechnya, General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, and top separatist commander Aslan Maskhadov signed an accord to reinforce a six-day ceasefire.

The deal, originally brokered by Lebed, calls for Russian and separatist forces to begin withdrawing from the Chechen capital, Grozny. Separatists remain largely in control of Grozny after retaking the city two weeks ago. The agreement also calls for planned joint Russian-Chechen patrols to start operating in Grozny.

Speaking after today's talks in the southern Chechen village of Noviye Atagi, Tikhomirov said Russian troops would resume pulling out of Grozny tomorrow. He said withdrawal from some southern districts of Chechnya would be completed by the end of today.

Tikhomirov said joint Russian-Chechen patrols will start up in Grozny within four days, as will prisoner exchanges. He pledged that "no more obstacles" would stand in the way of peace. Maskhadov told journalists the two commanders had "given each other our word that no provocations would become grounds for a breakdown of negotiations."