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Chechnya Peace Talks Get Under Way

Published: November 20, 2001 (Issue # 723)



  • Akhmed Zakayev.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

MOSCOW - An envoy of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov made a lightning visit to Moscow on Sunday for the first face-to-face settlement talks with a Kremlin representative since war started in Chechnya two years ago.

The meeting between Akhmed Zakayev and Viktor Kazantsev, the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, took place at Sheremetyevo Airport.

Kazantsev said after the two-hour meeting that the talks "went exclusively along the lines of the recent statement by President Putin concerning Chechnya," Itar-Tass reported. Kazantsev's adviser Mazim Fedorenko said that the two discussed ways for the guerrillas to lay down their weapons and begin a peaceful life.

"The parties aired their intention to seek a lasting peace in Chechnya," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Kazantsev and Zakayev had spoken by telephone several times since Putin in late September offered rebels the chance to start talks on laying down arms, but it was the first time the two met in person. After repeatedly rejecting calls by the rebels and Western countries for negotiations with Chechnya, Putin on Sept. 24 addressed the rebels in a speech outlining Russia's response to the terrorist attacks in the United States, and said the separatists should contact Russian authorities to arrange a first meeting. Putin's peace proposal was the first during the war that started in 1999. He and other officials had previously ruled out any talks with rebels and said they should be eliminated.

Kazantsev flew to Moscow from his Rostov-na-Dony headquarters in southern Russia on Sunday while Zakayev flew in from Turkey, Itar-Tass reported. Zakayev returned home afterward.

"We were very happy with the meetings. We believe the talks will continue and end positively," he said. "The most important goal of these talks was to stop the war in Chechnya."

Russia refused to allow mediators at talks with the rebels, who continue guerrilla resistance after having been driven from much of the northern Caucasus region by Russian forces. But Zakayev was accompanied by a Turkish politician and said in a statement before the talks that the Chechen side was acting with the "active cooperation" of Ankara.

"The meetings were very positive," the politician, Besim Tibuk, head of the small Liberal Democratic Party, told the same news conference. " The Turkish government was informed, but we didn't go there on behalf of the Turkish government. We went independently."

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Wednesday, Apr. 23


Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of society’s most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.



Thursday, Apr. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.