TITLE=RUSSIA / DAGESTAN (L)
INTRO: Russian military chiefs are making plans for a
massive air campaign to crush a Muslim insurgency in
the northern Caucasus. But as V-O-A's Peter Heinlein
reports from Moscow, the rebels have shot down another
Russian helicopter and appear to be holding their own.
TEXT: President Boris Yeltsin was seen on Russian
television Thursday, expressing confidence that
government forces would put down the Muslim uprising
in Dagestan, according to a well-orchestrated plan.
/// YELTSIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says, "We think that gradually, without any rush,
we will overcome this problem as we planned".
His deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov, was more
specific. Briefing reporters, General Zubov admitted
it is difficult to win a clear victory over guerrilla
fighters. But he said a large-scale assault is being
prepared, involving Dagestani volunteers on the ground
and Russian jets in the air.
/// ZUBOV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says, "In a couple days a massive operation will be
launched." He gave few details, other than to say
"the territory would be completely sanitized".
// OPT // At a separate briefing, Air Force
commander Anatoly Kornukov said there have already
been about 200 air strikes against rebel positions.
/// KORNUKOV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says, "We have inflicted heavy losses." After the
bombing missions of the past two days, he believes it
may take only a couple more days to finish the job.
// END OPT //
But despite the optimism in Moscow, news from the
front on day six of the Dagestan campaign was of
another Russian helicopter downed by rebel fire. At
least one crewman was killed, and three Interior
Ministry generals were among the injured. .
Agency reports indicate the insurgents, led by
renegade Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, are putting
up stiff resistance to the mostly irregular Dagestani
fighters on the ground.
/// REST OPT ///
A defense analyst, Pavel Felgenhauer, writing in the
Moscow Times newspaper, says Russia risks a repeat of
the disastrous campaign in Chechnya in the mid-1990's
because of poor coordination and distrust between the
interior and defense ministries.
In another development Thursday, the Chechen
government sent a formal protest to the foreign
ministry in Moscow complaining that Russian planes are
carrying out air strikes inside Chechnya.
Despite the presence of Chechen commanders and
fighters on the front, the breakaway region's
government has tried to maintain official neutrality
in the fighting. But Chechen leaders charge the air
strikes are provocations designed to drag the republic
into a new war aimed at reversing the outcome of the
last one, which ended with the humiliating withdrawal
of Russian troops from Chechnya, and de-facto
independence for the region. (Signed)
12-Aug-1999 11:30 AM EDT (12-Aug-1999 1530 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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