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Russia: Security Council To Meet On Chechnya

Moscow, 27 November 1996(RFE/RL) - Russia's Security Council will hold a meeting today focusing on Chechnya. On the agenda is the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway republic and a cooperation accord signed during the weekend between Moscow and the separatists.

A Council official, Dmitry Biryukov, said Council Secretary Ivan Ribkyn will chair the meeting, but gave no other details.

President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree last week ordering the withdrawal of two remaining military units from Chechnyna. The move has drawn sharp criticism from some State Duma deputies. The Duma is due on Friday to debate in special session a resolution to suspend the Russian pullout.

A Russian military spokesman said yesterday the troop withdrawal will begin on Sunday. Interfax news agency quotes Defense Ministry officials as saying today the pull-out is expected to be completed before the Chechen elections, scheduled for January 27.

Separatist field commander Shamil Basayev said last night he intends to run for Chechnya's presidency in the elections. Separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev is also expected to be among the candidates seeking the presidency.

Meanwhile Itar-tass says Russian human rights activist and Duma deputy Sergei Kovalyov is leaving for Chechnya today. Kovalyov, one of the most outspoken opponents of the Chechen conflict, is expected to meet both Chechen separatist and Russian representatives in the republic and is to report to the Duma during Friday's debate.