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Russia: Yeltsin Tells Government To Reach Consensus On Chechnya

Moscow, 15 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin today told his ministers in the Kremlin to stop their bickering over Russia's policy on breakaway Chechnya.

Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told a news conference Yeltsin had ordered Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Secretary of the Security Council Aleksandr Lebed, and Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov to reach a consensus on Chechnya before the end of today's parliamentary hearings.

Yastrzhembsky said that, as far as he knew, Yeltsin's order was carried out.

The Russian lower house of Parliament, the Duma, held closed-door hearings on the Chechen policy today. Our correspondent at the Duma quotes legislators who took part in the discussion as saying Lebed had presented a draft law giving Chechnya a special economic status.

Lebed signed a peace deal with Chechen separatists August 31. The deal had been criticized by Kulikov as amounting to high treason.

Lebed told reporters he received a cool reception from the legislators today. He said they had asked him "insidious" questions and had tried to teach him a "lesson." He said it appears the restoration of peace in Chechnya does not suit everybody.

Meanwhile, Chechen separatist spokesman Movladi Udugov told RFE/RL that the separatists' defense council decided yesterday to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in Chechnya at the end of January. Interfax reported that Lebed's deputy as security council secretary, Sergei Kharlamov, will travel to Chechnya tomorrow to discuss the election issue with the separatists.