Uneasy Peace

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MOSCOW: Although Russia's costly war in Chechnya officially ended Monday when Boris Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov signed a treaty declaring an end to military hostilities, the terse, four-paragraph peace treaty resolved little of long-term problems facing the region. Under the agreement, the two sides will put off a decision on Chechnya's political status until 2001. But Chechen leaders are already openly declaring that the republic is independent from Moscow, a position the Kremlin pretends not to notice. The Chechens also demand millions of dollars in compensation for damage caused during the two-year war at a time when the Russian government can't even afford to pay its troops. And an unchecked spree of terrorism and kidnapping may foil rebuilding attempts still further. Just two days before Maskhadov's meeting with Yeltsin, masked Chechen gunman kidnapped one of Russia's best-known TV journalists and a camera crew, bringing the number of kidnapped journalists in Chechnya to seven.