Russians, Chechen rebels announce cease-fire
August 17, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 a.m. EDT (1545 GMT)
NOVYE ATAGI, Russia (CNN) -- Russia's acting military
commander in the Caucasus region and the Chechen rebels'
chief-of-staff announced Saturday they had come to an
agreement on a cease-fire.
"We came to the general conclusion that we have to cease
fire, that there shouldn't be any more victims and that peace
should come to this land," said Russian commander Konstantin
Pulikovsky. He spoke to reporters after four hours of
meetings with Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov in this
village 16 miles from the Chechen capital, Grozny.
News reports were unclear about the logistics of the
agreement. The two sides planned to meet again Sunday.
CNN's Brent Sadler reported from Chechnya that fighting had
diminished Saturday, but sporadic firing continued. The
cease-fire is designed to end a 20-month war which
intensified August 6 with a rebel attack on Grozny that left
the city largely in rebel hands.
Following a week of house-to-house combat in the streets of
Grozny, Russian Security chief Alexander Lebed went there
and convinced rebel leaders to begin peace talks.
The rebels announced an informal truce earlier this week,
with no comment from the Russians. Pulikovsky later denied
there had been an agreement, although he said he'd ordered
his troops to hold their fire unless they were fired upon.
Fighting died down somewhat, but each side accused the other
of launching attacks. Rebel spokesman Movladi Udogov said
that Russian air strikes against Argun, about 10 miles east
of Grozny, and against the capital itself, had killed at
least five people, including civilians. But there was no
immediate confirmation of Udogov's report.
A spokesman for the Russian military told Interfax news
agency that rebels had killed two soldiers and wounded two
during an attack on the Russian base at Khankala outside
Kulikov to keep his job
In Moscow, political posturing was the order of the day for a
government that desperately wanted an end to the conflict
that has cost some 30,000 lives.
A day after Lebed called for his ouster, Interior Minister
Anatoly Kulikov reportedly received a vote of confidence from
President Boris Yeltsin. Interfax quoted sources inside the
Kremlin saying that Yeltsin had phoned Kulikov and told him
"to continue his work."
On Friday, Lebed -- given the task of solving the Chechen
crisis by the president -- accused Kulikov of mishandling the
situation and demanded that Yeltsin fire him.
"General Kulikov is one of the main culprits in the Chechen
tragedy," Lebed said.
Kulikov's Interior Ministry troops are accused of some of the
Chechen war's most serious atrocities. At least one Moscow
newspaper accused Lebed of using Kulikov as a scapegoat for
the eventuality that he cannot solve the Chechen crisis, but
rebel leaders put their confidence in the security chief.
"I trust Lebed because he isn't tainted," said rebel leader
Maskhadov. "He hasn't got blood on his hands."
Press and Reuters
contributed to this report.
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