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Russia: Kremlin Urges Media Ban Of Chechen Statements

Moscow, 31 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's spokesman on Chechnya today called for a ban on publishing or broadcasting in the Russian media statements made by Chechen separatists. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's spokesman on Chechnya, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that while a decision to use such statements still belongs to individual editors or journalists, "not everybody makes such a choice properly."

Yastrzhembsky said that "the law must regulate this question."

Yastrzhembsky appears to have been reacting to an interview with Chechnya's President Aslan Maskhadov that was published today in the Russian daily "Kommersant."

Maskhadov was quoted as saying that the war in Chechnya will end with the inevitable signing of a peace treaty between Chechnya and Russia. "All wars wind up with peace" he said.

Russian government officials have repeatedly rejected the possibility of negotiations with Chechen leaders, branding them bandits or terrorists.

On this day five years ago, Russian General Alexander Lebed and Maskhadov announced an accord ending the first war and "freezing" the question of Chechnya's status for five years.

Maskhadov was commander-in-chief of the pro-independence forces at the time, and the war had raged on for nearly two years.

The current offensive began in Chechnya nearly two years ago.