TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L)
INTRO: Russian warplanes have conducted another day
of air strikes on breakaway Chechnya, even as Russian
aid workers begin building camps for refugees fleeing
the bombs. V-O-A Moscow Correspondent Peter Heinlein
reports there are increasing signs that preparations
are underway for a ground invasion.
TEXT: Russian news agencies say warplanes resumed
strikes around the Chechen capital, Grozny, on
Wednesday after a one-day pause.
A Chechen source says several civilians were killed in
the attacks. A Russian spokesman says the targets
were military and industrial installations, and the
casualties were Chechen militants.
In the center of Grozny, an estimated 12-thousand
people attended a rally where they heard an appeal for
calm. Renegade Chechen commander Salman Raduyev urged
residents to stay home and prepare to defend the city,
as they did successfully during the 1994-96 war
against Russian rule.
Mr. Raduyev's appeal came as emergency workers in
neighboring Ingushetia began setting up tent cities to
house as many as 100-thousand Chechens who have
already fled. An official says he expects double that
number if the bombings continue.
/// OPT /// In another development, a planned
meeting between Chechnya's president, Aslan Maskhadov,
and the leader of another neighboring region,
Dagestan, failed to take place. The meeting was to
have been held in the Dagestani town of Khasavyurt,
where accords were signed ending the earlier Chechen
war. But Russian news reports said angry Khasavyurt
residents blocked roads, preventing the two leaders
from entering the town. /// END OPT ///
Other reports, meanwhile, quote military sources as
saying preparations are nearing completion for a
ground invasion of Chechnya. Some of the best-trained
federal troops units are said to be moving into
position along the Chechen border.
Russian officials previously said there would be no
repeat of the disastrous 1994 invasion of Chechnya.
But speaking to reporters Wednesday, Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin refused to rule out the use of ground
/// PUTIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says, "I have never said that a land operation
would not take place. But we will not allow a repeat
of what happened in 1994." He added, "We won't have
any attacks that could result in heavy casualties on
our side, but the task of destroying the militant
groups must be accomplished".
The previous Russian military incursion into Chechnya
left an estimated 80-thousand people dead, most of
them civilians, and triggered a powerful anti-war
movement. It ended three years ago with the
humiliating defeat of federal troops by Chechen rebels
and effective independence for the region.
But after a series of bomb blasts at apartment
buildings killed nearly 300 people this month, public
opinion has shifted solidly in favor of a renewed
campaign aimed at reversing the result of the previous
29-Sep-1999 12:47 PM EDT (29-Sep-1999 1647 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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