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Russia: OSCE Not Alarmed About Explusion From Chechnya

Vienna/Washington/Moscow, 5 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said today it was "not alarmed" by the expulsion of its mission chief from Chechnya.

OSCE spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the OSCE was following the situation "very closely" and expected Tim Guldimann to be allowed to return to the breakaway republic after the Chechen President-elect Aslan Maskhadov takes office next week.

Guldimann was expelled yesterday by the outgoing government of President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev for saying Chechnya was still a part of the Russian federation. Guldimann, who oversaw last month's Chechnya elections, is currently in the neighbouring Russian republic of Ingushetia.

In Washington, however, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns last night called on Yandarbiyev to "immediately reverse his decision."

In Moscow, Boris Kolokolov, a Russian Foreign Ministry advisor, told Interfax the expulsion was illegal because Chechnya, as part of the Russian Federation, had no right to declare someone persona non-grata.