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Chechnya: Yandarbiyev Appoints Head Of Oil Company

Grozny, 21 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev today issued a decree appointing Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov as chairman of the Chechen "Southern Oil Company-Yunko." Yerikhanov last year led the Chechen separatist delegation in peace talks with Russia.

An Itar-Tass report says the company was created in May 1995, following a special decision of the Russian government.

It is unclear whether Russia will recognize the separatists' unilateral appointment of their own representative to what Tass describes as a "key economic post."

Meanwhile Agence France Presse quotes Ruslan Kutayev, deputy prime minister in the self-declared Chechen separatist government, as saying today the separatists' first economic priority will be getting war-shattered Chechnya through the winter.

The separatist made public the formation of their self-declared government on Saturday, to be led by former chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov. They have also declared their intention to go ahead with parliamentary and presidential elections in the breakaway republic in January 1997.

AFP quotes Kutayev as saying the formation of the government was provided for in the peace accord signed last August by Maskhadov and Russia's former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed. It is "assuming all the tasks relating to national sovereignty and politics" in Chechnya, said Kutayev.

The Kremlin has yet to comment on the development, but last week Russian officials had protested at what they had called the separatists' "unilateral" initiatives.

A joint commission of Russian and separatist representatives was set up last week to handle funds for the reconstruction of Chechnya.