LEBED, MASKHADOV SIGN NEW CHECHEN CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT. In eight hours of talks in the Chechen village of Novye Atagi on 22 August, Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov drafted and then signed a nine-point agreement on the technical aspects of demilitarization, including the withdrawal of both sides' forces from Grozny and the creation of a joint military headquarters to maintain order and preclude looting, Russian and Western agencies reported.
CIVILIANS FLEE GROZNY, ULTIMATUM REMAINS IN FORCE. Citizens of Grozny on 20 August continued to flee the city following the ultimatum issued the previous day by the interim commander of the Russian federal forces, Lt.-Gen. Konstntin Pulikovskii, though an estimated 150,000 people remain, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chechen spokesman Movladi Udugov told Reuters that some 100 civilians died when Russian troops blew up a bridge in Alkhan- Yurt, southwest of Grozny; AFP reported that Russian troops later blocked the only remaining route out of the city to the northeast.
TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
ARDZINBA REITERATES READINESS TO MEET WITH SHEVARDNADZE.
LEBED DENOUNCES INTERIOR MINISTER KULIKOV . . . At a 16 August Moscow press conference following his return from Chechnya, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed called on President Yeltsin to dismiss Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov for failing to implement orders to normalize the situation in Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported.
TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA
ETHNIC ARMENIANS IN ABKHAZIA.
FIGHTING SLACKENS IN GROZNY. An uneasy calm settled over central Grozny on the afternoon of 14 August, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chechen fighters control most of the town, except for isolated Russian strongpoints. The commander of federal forces in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, denied that a formal ceasefire had been negotiated, saying he had merely ordered his troops to open fire only if attacked. Pulikovskii and separatist Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov met at 5:45 p.m. to discuss joint monitoring of the ceasefire and a prisoner exchange.
TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA
MORE ON ABKHAZ PEACEKEEPER MANDATE. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin said that Georgia and Abkhazia have agreed to extend and somewhat amend the mandate of the Russian-dominated CIS peacekeepers in Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 August. The extension is expected to be approved at a meeting of CIS heads of state in two weeks time. The 8 August vote of the Russian Federation Council to extend the mandate was not legally sufficient without the consent of the two parties and the CIS presidents, contrary to earlier media reports.
AID WORKERS ABDUCTED IN CHECHNYA. A French and a British aid worker with Action Against Hunger were abducted in Grozny on 27 July, and a ransom of half a million dollars was demanded for their release on 3 August, Western agencies reported. A spokesman for the Chechen leadership denied that Chechen field commanders were responsible, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller
CHECHEN PEACE TALKS SUSPENDED.
CEASEFIRE IN GROZNY? The commander of Federal Forces in Chechnya, Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, and separatist Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov met in the Chechen village of Novye Atagi on 13 August to discuss a ceasefire, Russian and Western agencies reported. Following the three-hour meeting, a Chechen spokesman told Russian media that a ceasefire would go into effect at noon on 14 August and troops from both sides would pull back from the front lines.
LEBED TAKES CHARGE OF CHECHEN TALKS . . . Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed returned to Moscow from Chechnya on 12 August and briefed President Yeltsin on the results of his talks with Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, Russian and Western agencies reported. Lebed later said that Yeltsin approved the general outline of the settlement plan he had discussed with Maskhadov, and would issue a decree within the next 48 hours empowering the Security Council head to implement it.
MORE ON RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS IN ABKHAZIA. The Russian Federation Council has agreed to double the number of troops in the Russian-dominated CIS peacekeeping force in Abkhazia to 3,000 and expand their operations to cover all of the Gali District, according to a 9 August Georgian Radio report monitored by the BBC. The council had earlier decided to extend the force's mandate until 31 January 1997 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1996). Russia's ambassador to Georgia described the new policing functions as a breakthrough.
STANDOFF CONTINUES IN GROZNY. Fighting continued in central Grozny on 7- 8 August as Chechen militants tried without success to take the central government building, Russian and Western media reported. Two Russian helicopters opened fire on civilians fleeing south from Grozny, killing 22 people and wounding 30 more, according to AFP. Both sides dispatched reinforcements to Grozny on 8 August, Reuters reported, citing Interfax.
CHECHEN MILITANTS "IN CONTROL OF GROZNY." Heavy fighting in Grozny between Chechen militants and Russian forces continued during the night of 6-7 August, and as of mid-morning on 7 August the Chechen detachments were "in effective control" of the city, Reuters reported. On 6 August, the Russians lost four helicopter gunships and 23 Russian troops were killed and 91 injured, according to Reuters. Confusion persists over the identity of the Chechen commander coordinating the operation.
CHECHENS LAUNCH MAJOR ASSAULT ON GROZNY. During the early morning of 6 August, up to 300 Chechen militants attacked Grozny, and heavy fighting was reported in several parts of the city, Western and Russian agencies reported. Simultaneous attacks were launched on the towns of Argun and Gudermes, east of the capital.
KOVALEV CLAIMS CHECHENS PREPARING DUDAEV DOUBLE. Russian counter- intelligence director Nikolai Kovalev on 1 August attributed rumors that Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudaev isstill alive and will return to Chechnya on 2 August to plans by his supporters to produce a double, Russian media reported. Kovalev, speaking at a press conference in Moscow , also claimed that a group of Chechen fighters led by field commander Ruslan Khaikharoev are planning terrorist acts in the Russian Federation in order to draw Dagestan and North Ossetiya into the conflict.
RUSSIAN TROOPS LAUNCH NEW CHECHEN OFFENSIVE. Despite ongoing hostilities in the Vedeno, Nozhai-Yurt, and Itum-Kale raions of Chechnya, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev told representatives of the Chechen community in Moscow on 31 July that there had been no fighting in Chechnya for a week, AFP reported.
MASKHADOV ESCAPES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. For the second time this year, Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov on 29 July escaped an assassination attempt uninjured, Russian and Western agencies reported. A group of gunmen opened fire on the car in which Maskhadov was traveling in Nozhai-Yurt raion in southeast Chechnya; one attacker was shot dead by Maskhadov's bodyguard. On 9 April, 10 people were killed when a bomb exploded in a cemetery where Maskhadov was due to speak.
ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN GROZNY. Some 200 people staged an unsanctioned demonstration in Grozny on 26 July to demand the resignation of the pro-Moscow Chechen government and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, AFP reported. Three of the organizers were detained, according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 26 July, the head of the OSCE mission in Chechnya, Tim Guldimann, met with pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev who has repeatedly criticized his mediation efforts, Reuters reported.
NEW CONDITIONS FOR RENEWING CHECHEN TALKS. Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov said on 25 July that he is prepared to meet with the head of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, only if the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, is present to guarantee his safety, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov told ITAR-TASS that Moscow is ready to resume talks immediately the Chechen side starts to implement the measures specified in the 27 May and 10 June agreements. Lt.-Gen.
MASKHADOV, KVASHNIN MEETING CALLED OFF. The planned meeting between Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov and the commander of the Russian Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, failed to take place on 24 July, Russian and Western media reported. The commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen.