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Russia: Basayev Named Acting Leader Of Chechnya

Grozny, 7 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov today named a guerrilla commander on Russia's most wanted list as temporary leader of Chechnya.

Itar-Tass reports Shamil Basayev will be acting prime minister during Maskhadov's upcoming pilgrimage to Mecca. While many Chechens see Basayev as a hero for his 1995 hostage-taking raid at a Budyonnovsk hospital in southern Russia, Moscow considers him to be a terrorist.

Maskhadov, who is both president and prime minister, plans a pilgrimage to Mecca as soon as this week.

Meanwhile, Chechnya and Ingushetia have set up a commission to study a border clash yesterday between armed Chechens and Ingush police. State Duma Deputy Chairman Mikhail Gutseriyev said one Ingush policeman was killed in a shootout with about 70 armed Chechens who tried to enter Ingush territory. Authorities in Grozny say one Chechen was killed.