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Russia: Chechen Separatists Accuse Moscow Of Breaking Pipeline Deal

Moscow, 7 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior Chechen separatist official today accused Moscow of failing to set up a mechanism to share the revenues from Caspian oil which will pass through Chechnya on its way to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

Khodzh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, who heads the oil sector in the Chechen separatist government, told the Russian Itar-Tass news agency that the Russian energy ministry was refusing to reach such an accord and thus was "violating" the peace agreement. Yarikhanov said this could only be described as "as an attempt to exert economic pressure on Chechnya."

The main pipeline for exporting oil from Azerbaijan's offshore Caspian oil fields to Novorossiisk passes through Chechnya. As part of the peace accord on ending the war in the breakaway republic Moscow had agreed to negotiate an deal on sharing the profits from the lucrative oil transit by December 1996.

Anatoly Shatalov, Russia's first deputy energy minister, today told Interfax that no special agreement needed to be reached with Chechnya because "Chechnya remains part of Russia and like other Russian territories would receive some of the profits."

Under the peace agreement ending the war in the breakaway republic, the final determination of the political status of Chechnya was frozen for up to five years.