The chairman of the Chechen parliament, Dukhvakha Abdurakhmanov, and the self-declared prime minister of the Chechen government in exile in London, Akhmed Zakayev, have met for the first time in Oslo. Zakayev’s foreign minister, Osman Ferzaouli, also took part in the talks, AFP reported.
However, Abdurakhmanov was quick to deny the report that he had participated in the talks in Norway. Abdurakhmanov told Russian news agencies that he had not left Chechnya and had not carried out negotiations with anyone.
Zakayev also denied that any talks between him and Kadyrov’s representatives had taken place. Zakayev told Radio Svoboda that the organisers of the meeting were ahead of time in regarding “preliminary consultations” as negotiations.
Ivar Amundsen, director of the London-based organisation, Chechnya Peace Forum, said the talks had taken place this week and that they would resume on 2 July 2009. He said the tone of the meetings was very positive and constructive. A press conference with all the parties would take place in Oslo on 3 July 2009.
Amundsen said the aim of the talks was to bring about long-term stability in Chechnya. Amundsen suggested talks six months ago, after Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov declared that long-term political stability in Chechnya could not be achieved without the involvement of Zakayev.
“This meeting is especially significant because Kadyrov approved it, which means Moscow has approved it,” said Amundsen. Earlier, Amundsen has alleged that there is a “secret alliance” between the Russian security service, FSB, and the Islamist armed groups fighting against Moscow’s rule in North Caucasus.
In January 2009, Lema Gudaev, head of the Chechen government’s information department, said that accusations by the FSB that Zakayev was supporting terrorism were aimed at foiling the dialogue between Zakayev and Kadyrov. Zakayev himself has said that he was ready for talks with any party, including Kadyrov.
In February 2009, Zakayev said he would not return to Chechnya before the Russian government began negotiations about a political settlement to the war in Chechnya. Prior to that Chechen strongman Kadyrov said he had held talks with Zakaev about the conditions of return.
A joint meeting of the Chechen parliament and government in exile, led by Akhmed Zakayev, was held on 30 June 2009, Chechenpress reported. The meeting discussed Zakayev’s “latest initiatives in search of a political solution to the Russian-Chechen conflict, bringing together all parties involved in the conflict and interested in its resolution.”
Referring to the recent rebel attacks across North Caucasus, Zakayev said the situation was “locked in a spiral of confrontation and violence.” Against this background, he said, “a search for avenues of peacefully resolving conflicts in the Caucasus, both old and new, had become particularly urgent.”
The government in exile will soon publish a working plan and inform the public about its implementation, Chechenpress reported. In the meantime, two of Zakayev’s web sites, chechenpress.org and chechenpress.info carry an announcement saying the sites have been suspended.
Zakayev intends to return to Chechnya (RTVi)