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Chechnya: Lebed And Maskhadov Agree On Coalition Government

Grozny, 5 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed said today that he and Chechen separatist chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov have reached an agreement for a coalition government in Chechnya.

Lebed made the announcement following a new round of talks today with Maskhadov in the village of Novye Atagi, south of Grozny. He said the agreement also calls for the continuation of joint Russian-Chechen separatist patrols in Grozny, the demilitarization of the city and continued efforts to exchange prisoners of war.

Chechen separatist vice-president Said-Khassan Abumuslimov said the coalition government would include at least two members of the Moscow-backed government of Doku Zavgayev, along with Chechen separatist representatives.

It remains unclear whether Lebed and Maskhadov discussed Zavgayev's resignation today. Zavgayev met Lebed and President Boris Yeltsin's administration head Anatoly Chubais in Moscow yesterday, but the result of the talks is unknown.

Zavgayev, who was installed by Russia and confirmed in elections marked by widespread irregularities, has repeatedly denounced the peace talks between Lebed and Chechen separatists as being a "coup d'etat" against his government.

Itar-Tass reports that after the meeting with Maskhadov, Lebed left for the town of Sgali, south of Grozny, to meet Chechen field commanders. The French AFP news agency quotes Lebed as telling a crowd in Shali's main square that Russian troops will start withdrawing from Chechnya on Sunday.

Earlier today, Lebed said that Russian forces will not leave the breakaway republic until all prisoners have been exchanged.