Russian President’s Assistant and Spokesperson Sergei Yastrzshembskii stated to Interfax news agency that Putin’s demand to Chechen commanders to surrender the weapons in 72 hours “was not an ultimatum.” President Putin did not speak of any repressive sanctions toward those who will not surrender the weapons, Yastrzshembskii explained. Spokesperson’s announcement came 6 hours before the 72-hour deadline expired.
Georgian officials speaking off record yesterday expressed their unease to Civil.ge regarding the expiration pf Putin’s ultimatum. It was feared that ensuing Russian reprisals could spill across the border to Georgia’s Pankisi and Kodori gorges. President Shevardnadze, speaking on a government session of September 19 admitted presence of a certain number of terrorists in these areas of Georgia.
Yastzshembskii’s statement is thought to represent a cover-up for a failure as only 7 guns were surrendered to Russian troops in Chechnya. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, interpreted Putin’s statement precisely as an ultimatum earlier on. In his interview to “Trud” daily published today he spoke of Chechen guerrilla’s “the last chance to surrender.”