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Russian Delegation in Chechnya

January 10, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ Hoping to keep Chechnya within the Russian federation, a Moscow delegation arrived in the republic today to discuss its econonomic recovery following the separatist war.

Deputy Premier Ramazan Abdulatipov, leader of the 30-member delegation, was to meet with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and his top deputy, former guerrilla commander Shamil Basayev, Russia’s NTV network said.

The visit coincides with Maskhadov’s efforts to form a new government. He dismissed the Cabinet last week, trying to impose greater order, keep various armed groups under control and rebuild the republic’s ruined economy. A list of the new members was expected to be presented to Maskhadov later today, NTV said.

Moscow signed a peace treaty with Chechnya last year, but the deal left Chechnya’s status undecided and its leaders consider the republic a sovereign nation. Sporadic fighting often has flared since then.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin recently announced plans to visit Chechnya, then indefinitely postponed the trip after one such attack.

Maskhadov appeared disappointed that it wasn’t Yeltsin leading the delegation.

``(Yeltsin) must see with his own eyes what has happened here,″ he said in an interview in today’s Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.

``Today, Boris Nikolayevich does not know what is happening here. So far, Moscow has had only one thought _ to block us, to strangle us, to wear us out,″ Maskhadov said.

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