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Russia: Elections Won't Bring Chechnya's Independence

By Sergey Sokolov

Moscow, 20 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council says the issue of Chechnya's independence will remain unsolved despite next week's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Boris Berezovsky spoke at a roundtable discussion in Moscow on next Monday's vote. The roundtable was organized by the committee on geopolitics of Russia's State Duma.

A peace agreement signed last year between Russia and Chechnya deferred the issue of Chechnya's independence for five years.

Berezovsky's comments came as one of five leading candidates in the presidential election, Shamil Basayev, said Russia must eventually recognize Chechnya's independence.

Berezovsky told RFE/RL today that if Basayev -- a top field commander and leader of a major hostage-taking operation in the Southern Russian city of Budyonnovsk -- wins the elction "it will be impossible" for Russian authorities to continue negotiations with him. According to Berezovsky, "in the eyes of many people, Basayev is a terrorist and therefore cannot become a negotiating partner."

But the chairman of the Duma's nationalities committee told our correspondent that Russia should declare a broad amnesty for Chechen fighters considered terrorists. Zorin said Russian authorities should conduct negotiations with any of the Chechen leaders who will be elected president next Monday.