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Russia: Chechen Envoy Meets With Rybkin To Discuss War

Moscow, 16 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- An official envoy of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov says he has met in Switzerland with former Russian Security Council Secretary-General Ivan Rybkin to discuss ways to end the war in the breakaway republic. Akhmed Zakaev said last night on the Ekho Moskvy radio station that he had met yesterday in Zurich with Rybkin and that he held the talks on Maskhadov's orders. He did not provide any details about the meeting.

Rybkin was quoted by Ekho Moskvy as saying that proposals presented by Zakaev during the talks were "serious" and "realistic." He said these proposals will be conveyed to President Vladimir Putin.

Last month, Rybkin published an open letter to Putin calling for negotiations with Maskhadov.

Russia Accuses Georgia of Helping Chechen Separatists

In other news, Russia yesterday accused Georgia of violating UN antiterrorist rules by maintaining contacts with Chechnya's separatist leader and allowing representatives of the separatists to operate in the country.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that according to Georgian media reports, Georgian officials have been in contact with Maskhadov, leader of the Chechen separatists. Maskhadov is wanted in Russia on terrorist charges.

The ministry also demanded that Georgia close what it called a separatist representative office in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The ministry said the office finances, arms, and recruits militants to fight in Chechnya.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry declined to comment on those allegations.

Two days ago, Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze said Georgian forces are planning large-scale exercises in the area close to the border with Russia, including the Pankisi Gorge, where Russia says some Chechen separatists are based.