MASKHADOV'S ORDER TO CEASE FIRE IS A TIMEOUT ATTEMPT

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MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - Head of the Russian State Duma security committee Vladimir Vasilyev believes that the information about Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov's order on unilateral cease-fire is a timeout attempt.

"This statement is hypocritical. This is a mere desire to take a timeout and wait till the winter is over because in winter all movements in the mountains are fixed," the parliamentarian said.

Information about Maskhadov and Basayev's alleged orders to cease fire in Chechnya and other Russian territories in February "as a sign of goodwill" appeared on the Chechen separatist web sites www.kavkazcenter.com and www.chechenpress.com.

Mr. Vasilyev is surprised by the fact that such orders were simultaneously given by Maskhadov who denies his participation in terrorist acts and Basayev who claims his participation in them.

According to the State Duma deputy, when Aslan Maskhadov was the president of the so-called Republic of Ichkeria he had a chance to take measures to settle the situation but preferred to follow the path of Basayev and Khattab.

Vladimir Vasilyev also commented on Boris Berezovsky's statement that Chechen militants allegedly possess atomic weapons. "Links between Berezovsky and Basayev are no secret to anyone and his statement falls into the same information cell with those by Maskhadov and Basayev," he stressed.

On Tuesday the information and press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry and a representative of the federal atomic energy agency denied the information that militants possess atomic weapons.

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