rapprochement between the warring sides became possible only after
April 1996, when Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed in the fighting.
Yeltsin handed responsibility for dealing with the situation in
Chechnya to the ambitious retired general Alexander Lebed, who had
been appointed secretary of Russia’s influential Security Council.
He immediately made trips to the breakaway republic to meet with
both the Chechen separatists and the Russian military commanders,
and by the end of August 1996 he had negotiated a cease-fire that
included the agreement to defer a decision on Chechen independence
for five years. The cease-fire
made it possible for federal troops to withdraw from Chechen
territory and for elections to be planned. By the end of the year
Russian troops had left the province and Chechnya was, in all but
name, an independent state.