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Russia: Chechen Separatists Rule Out Conditional Talks With Moscow

Moscow, 27 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen separatists said today that peace negotiations with Moscow will be possible only if they are unconditional and carried out on an equal footing. In an interview published today in the Russian weekly "Vek," Viktor Kazantsev, President Vladimir Putin's top representative to Northern Caucasus, said that peace talks could be envisaged if Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov publicly apologize for his actions.

But AFP news agency quoted Maskhadov's aide Said-Hassan Abumuslimov as saying that such conditions are "unconceivable" and that talks should be conducted "on an equal footing and without prior conditions."

Earlier this month Russian liberal politician Boris Nemtsov led a parliamentary delegation which signed a five-point declaration with Chechen separatists in Ingushetia.

Nemtsov reportedly urged Putin to start dialogue with separatists, but Kremlin spokesman on Chechnya Sergei Yastrzhembsky has repeatedly ruled out any peace talks unless Maskhadov surrenders first.