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Chechnya: Few Foreign VIPs To Attend Inauguration

By Gintaras Aleknonis

Grozny, Russia; 11 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Chechnya's new president Aslan Maskhadov will hold a low-key inauguration ceremony Wednesday, with few of the foreign guests the Chechens had been hoping would bolster their independence drive.

Organizer Said-Akhmat Saidulayev said onlookers will be limited to 500 people and the ceremony would be "modest and relatively short."

Moscow has warned that any country which extends diplomatic recognition to Chechnya will lose its diplomatic ties to Russia. Foreign figures attending the inauguration have to travel through Russia and therefore can only attend with Moscow's approval.

Meanwhile, a Lithuanian parliamentary delegation headed by Romualda Hofertiene was prevented from traveling to Chechnya today as planned. Hofertiene said in a press release that the Russian embassy in Vilnius said no visa would be given to the delegation. No reason for the denial was given.