Russia’s omnipotent and omnipresent mass media have proved not to be so powerful. A kind of information vacuum has been created over the media’s commentaries on the meeting of Viktor Kazantsev, the Russian president’s plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District, and Ahmed Zakayev, a representative of president of the rebellious Republic of Ichkeria (Chechnya) Aslan Maskhadov. The covert meeting took place on Sunday at the Sheremetyevo-2 airport, some 20km north of Moscow. The meeting lasted for about 2h. Its results and details will be made public by the presidential envoy after some scrutiny, officials at Mr. Kazantsev’s secretariat say.
The above information is nothing but an ascertaining of the fact. The meeting’s participants also were not talkative. “I hope the result will be positive for both parties," Mr. Zakayev is quoted as saying at a news conference held in Istanbul on his return from Moscow. The specific date and venue of another likely meeting are not yet known, the NTV television network reports. Spokesmen for Mr. Kazantsev also assess positively the meeting between the two envoys. Mr. Zakayev was more talkative with Western journalists. “The Chechen problem can only be solved by political means, not militarily,” he told the BBC Russian service. At the same time, he rejected the idea that the Chechen side had been prompted to negotiations by the September 11th terrorist attacks on the USA and also the results of the anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan. Mr. Zakayev stressed that, in his view, the West did not consider the Chechen problem in the context of international terrorism. He also said that a possible disarmament had not been discussed during the negotiations with Mr. Kazantsev; however, the Chechen side was ready to consider steps directed at the republic’s demilitarization in the long term. In Mr. Zakayev words, Russia did not want foreign mediators to be involved the negotiations, but the rebellious Chechens agreed to the meeting thanks to the active engagement by the Turkish side.”
Will there be further contacts of this kind? And, if so, what shape are they going to take? What is Moscow to propose to Mr. Maskhadov, and what is his reaction going to be? Does Moscow really need these negotiations or are just a ploy for the West? There are no answers yet.
Dmitri Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/11/19/33938.html