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Press Release, 11.11.99
Alexey Melnikov's responds to Anatoli Chubais with his own stringent accusations

The harsh criticism that Anatoli Chubais, the Chairman of RAO "EC-Rossiya", has expressed about the planned peaceful settlement of the conflict in Chechnya, which was proposed recently by Yabloko's leader Grigory Yavlinsky has provoked an extremely negative reaction from the leadership of the Yabloko association.

In his press conference on Friday Anatoli Chubais accused Grigory Yavlinsky of betrayal, asserting that "implementation of Yavlinsky's plan would virtually not only stab Russia's army in the back, but also help Maskhadov evacuate the terrorists beyond the borders of Chechnya and hide them from justice".

Commenting on this allegation, one of Yabloko's leaders, deputy of the State Duma Alexei Melnikov, assumes that Anatoly Chubais either failed to read the document proposed by Grigory Yavlinsky or is engaging in malicious libel.

Yavlinsky's plan, remarked Alexei Melnikov, did not envisage any removal of the blockade on Chechnya and harbouring of international terrorists from justice. According to Alexei Melnikov, this plan seeks to "remove the terrorists with minimum losses for Russian troops and ensure a political settlement of the situation from a position of force".

Alexei Melnikov also stressed that Yabloko and his leader Grigory Yavlinsky supported and would support the actions of the Russian army in Chechnya. He also said that another allegation by Anatoli Chubais, to the effect that Grigory Yavlinsky had purportedly attempted to somehow apologise for his plan and declare that it had been misinterpreted, contradicted the facts as well. Alexei Melnikov stressed: "Anybody who has a clear conscience has nothing to apologise for. On the contrary, anybody with a guilty conscience tends to lay the blame on somebody else."

Deputy Melnikov also recalled that Anatoli Chubais was a member of the cabinet, which unleashed the war in Chechnya in 1994-1996 and then "shamefully lost. Therefore Chubais is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Russian soldiers and civilians in that war. This gives us all grounds to characterise Chubais as a 'traitor'. The traitor Chubais has no moral right to issue any assessments on politicians who are trying to support the Russian army in Chechnya and are seeking to remove the terrorists with minimum losses for Russian troops", stressed Alexei Melnikov.

Based on Interfax information.


The Yabloko faction may support the agreement on a Union between Russia and Belarus

The Yabloko faction in the State Duma may support the idea of signing the Union Treaty between RF and Belarus, provided that Yabloko's proposals on the essence and contents of the document are taken into account.

At a briefing in Moscow on Monday, Vladimir Lukin, Chairman of the Committee for International Affairs of the State Duma (Yabloko), said that the delegation from Yabloko submitted "a number of significant amendments" to the document at the conference on the Union Treaty, which took place last Saturday in Minsk.

According to Vladimir Lukin, Yabloko thinks that the fledgling Co-operation Council (involving the presidents, prime ministers and heads of parliaments of the Russian Federation and Belarus) should not issue any binding decrees or resolutions.

Otherwise Vladimir Lukin believes that we may run the following risk: that the Co-operation Council "may adopt anything, including an extension of the proxies of one of the presidents", that would mean "passing beyond the boundaries of the right democratic field".

The essence of the faction's proposal is to either extend the proxies of the "present joint parliament or speed up the elections of the legislative body of a newly convened Commonwealth", said Vladimir Lukin. According to Vladimir Lukin, 90% of Yabloko's proposals may be accepted.

In this case Yabloko will obviously support the signing of the Union Treaty between the Russian Federation and Belarus, stressed Vladimir Lukin. Commenting on journalist inquiries as to the reaction of Yabloko to the abrupt criticism of Yabloko's proposals on the settlement of the Chechen crisis issued by Anatoli Chubais, head of the RAO-EC of Russia, Vladimir Lukin said that the recent use by Anatoli Chubais of the term "traitor" to characterise Yabloko's leader, Grigory Yavlinsky, may only mean that: "he (Anatoli Chubais) feels lonely with his present reputation and would like to share it with someone else".

When he answered journalist questions, Vladimir Lukin expressed his hope that the anti-terrorist operation of the federal forces in Chechnya would not involve any attempt to storm Grozny. According to Vladimir Lukin: "in this case, we might well see a repetition of the Gudermes scenario" (achieving control of the town with the help of the local population).

This option is possible, as Vladimir Lukin believes that the present war in Chechnya is not a people's war on behalf of the people of Chechnya and the latter demonstrate a readiness to co-operate with the federal forces.

Based on Interfax information.


Sergei Stepashin on Grigory Yavlinsky's proposals

Former Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Stepashin, expresses his conviction that Russia must not interrupt its military operations in Chechnya today. However, he thinks that it is reasonable to initiate a dialogue with "those individuals who can really influence the situation" in Chechnya.

Commenting on the Ekho Moskvi radio station on November 10, 1999 on the proposal of Grigory Yavlinsky to interrupt the military operations, in order to start negotiations on certain terms with the Chechnian leader, Aslan Maskhadov, Sergei Stepashin said: "From a military viewpoint, today we must not stop the operations in Chechnya to simply start negotiations there".

Sergei Stepashin added: "In addition we must not stop the federal forces in Chechnya from a purely psychological point of view." Stepashin stressed: "We must bear in mind that the military operations are being carried out there by people who think that the victory in 1996 was stolen from them, because the military then and today cannot be responsible for political errors, including my own, in the assessment of the situation in Chechnya on the verge of 1994. We cannot neglect this now."

Speaking about dialogue with the Chechnian leadership under Yavlinsky's plan, he said: "There are people living in Grozny, in Chechnya or Moscow, who could really influence the situation in the Chechen Republic. The issue as to whether this will happen with or without the aid of Maskhadov is secondary here."

Sergei Stepashin said that it was right to raise the issue of granting a corridor to the refugees. He recalled that in summer 1996 when Grozny was subject to a blockade during the military operations: "a special corridor was created to enable people to freely leave Grozny. Today such a situation has developed over Bamut, Gudermes and Grozny. But we must solve the problem by devising a package of measures indicating: where they will go, how they will be received and where they will live. These are purely humanitarian problems."

Sergei Stepashin believes that there are "no discrepancies" between his position and that of Yabloko's leader. Sergei Stepashin concluded: "I introduced clarity into some issues. I think that there are virtually no discrepancies. Grigory Alexeevich proposed some kind of ultimatum. I am explaining how we can actually work with it. This principle is called "a forced peace", in other words we must issue the ultimatum to Maskhadov and continue acting as we do today."

Based on ITAR-TASS information