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Chechnya: Separatist Leaders Gather In Grozny

Moscow, 9 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - For the first time in 19 months, Chechen separatist leaders are expected to appear openly in the capital of Grozny today to participate in a congress of Chechen political groups.

Interfax reports that separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov, and other top separatists will take part in the gathering. It is not known whether groups allied with Moscow will be attending.

Interfax quotes a senior separatist official as saying the congress will discuss creation of a coalition government -- one of the steps called for in peace agreements between Moscow and separatist officials. The two sides have agreed that at least two members of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration will be included in the coalition.

Peace agreements also call for the demilitarization of Grozny and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway republic. They also delay a decision on the republic's political status until the year 2001.

Meanwhile, as the withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic entered its second day, the Russian military reported new separatist attacks. An official with the Russian military command says that a Russian serviceman was killed in one of the incidents, which occured in the town of Chervlennaya 30 kilometers northeast of the capital, Grozny. There is no independent confirmation of the report.