SINCE CHECHEN FORCES abandoned Grozny's devastated presidential palace on 19 January, providing Moscow with a Pyrrhic victory, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has stepped up negotiations with Chechen leaders, the opposition Provisional Council, and the "government of national revival." Chernomyrdin, whom President Boris Yeltsin has charged with negotiating a settlement of the Chechen crisis, has been directing talks on how best to administer the northern Chechen regions now under Russian military control.

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