Presidential aide rejects Maskhadov negotiation offer

Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky has rejected a proposal of former Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov to start negotiations about Chechnya through international mediators.

In an interview with RIA Novosti, Yastrzhembsky said "international involvement is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, as the problem of Chechnya is an internal matter for Russia and it will be solved, including through the mobilisation of the Chechen people in the fight against terrorism and separatism." According to the aide, "as usual the statement of former president of Ichkeria Maskhadov is abundant with distortions and inaccuracies." "Firstly, Maskhadov talks about the need to end military actions, when in fact there are none. Moreover, Chechnya is an inalienable part of Russia, while the Chechens are Russian citizens. There is the problem with the fight against terrorism, separatism and gangsterism, and this is gradually being solved. Undoubtedly, this will be resolved in the end," Yastrzhembsky said.

Maskhadov, according to the aide, has also proposed that contacts be resumed between special presidential envoy in the south federal district Viktor Kazantsev and Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev.

"There's no need to force an open door," the aide stressed. "Nobody is preventing Mr. Zakayev from establishing contacts with Mr. Kazantsev in the conditions set out in the well-known declaration of the Russian president," Yastrzhembsky stressed.

According to him, Maskhadov is not concealing that his offer to Putin came on the eve of the G-8 meeting on Canada and when a PACE session is being held in Strasbourg.

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