Even as Chechnya waged war against Russia Tuesday, the break-away republic's fugitive leader Gen. Dzhokar Dudayev answered students' questions via speaker phone at the Russian Research Center, according to Marshall I. Goldman, the center's associate director.
Dudayev spoke from 2:20 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. with the roughly 40 under-graduates, graduates and research students who came to the seminar.
"He discussed the cease fire, and he announced that [it] was violated by the Russians [when] they increased their missile strikes," said Goldman, who noted that the general seemed relaxed and at ease.
"He said he worked out an agreement with the [Russian] minister of defense and, [Russian President Boris] Yeltsin refused to accept it," Goldman said. "He thought the Russian interests in this area--the decision to move ahead--is determined by the Russians' access to oil in the Caspian Sea."
The Russian Research Center, which is housed in Coolidge Hall, initially had arranged to have Dudayev's emissary, Aslamebek Kadiev, speak at the seminar which discussed the war from Chechnya's point of view. The general later promised to call in the middle of the session.
Kadiev spoke to the gathering in person for about 15 minutes until the general's call was received.
Dudayev, who called with a satellite phone from an unidentified location, not only informed the students, but also received some news.
"He was not aware that [President] Clinton had called Yeltsin urging him to work out a cease fire," Goldman said.
He said the general also mentioned that other Caucasian republics have not joined the fighting because they are stillunder Communist leadership.
In response to one student's question, Dudayevadmitted that some Chechens are involved in themafia. But he, added, that they have been provokedby the Russians.
"It was really wild," Goldman said. "Here weare in the middle of a war, and he sits down andgives a seminar.