Moscow, 5 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russia's Security Council Secretary and special envoy to Chechnya Ivan Rybkin arrived in the Chechen capital Grozny today for a fresh round of talks with separatist leaders on the peace process in the breakaway republic.
Interfax news agency quoted Rybkin as saying that he favored January 27 as the date set by the Chechens for their presidential and general elections.
Discussion between Rybkin and the Chechens is expected to focus on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya due to be completed before the poll. The pullout was decreed by President Boris Yeltsin in line with separatist demands. But the move has been heavily criticised by Yeltsin's communist and nationalist opponents who dominate the state duma. Yesterday the Duma approved a resolution calling on Yeltsin to review the ordered pullout.
Rybkin's plane landing at Grozny's Severny airport officially reopened civilian air traffic to Chechnya. The airport was closed to civilian traffic during the war, being used only by the Russian military. The Russian airline Donair is to operate seven flights a week from Grozny. A Chechen airline is to follow suit at a later date.