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DATE=8/16/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA DAGESTAN (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-252825 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russian president Boris Yeltsin has pledged to take tough measures to restore order in the troubled northern Caucasus. But he has ruled out declaring a state of emergency. As we hear from VOA's Peter Heinlein in Moscow, Russian government forces in Dagestan are reporting progress in battling a Muslim insurgency. TEXT: On day 10 of the Dagestan campaign, Russian news agencies say troops inflicted heavy casualties on Muslim insurgents. The Interfax service reports that phase-two of the anti-insurgency plan has begun. A dispatch from the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, says government troops have surrounded several rebel-held villages and are laying mines along escape routes. Helicopters and jet planes are also reported resuming air strikes on mountain strongholds used by rebels to raid government positions. The heightened military activity in the Dagestani Mountains prompted neighboring Chechnya to impose a state of emergency, effective Monday (today). But President Boris Yeltsin says there will be no similar declaration in Russia. ///Yeltsin act in Russian, then fade to.../// He says "I state firmly as president of the country that there will be no emergency. Everything is calm and normal." At the same time, however, he pledged to restore order in the restive northern Caucasus region. ///2nd Yeltsin act in Russian, then fade to.../// He says, "Of course we will take tough measures in the northern Caucasus. We will restore order in Dagestan and in other republics." Mr. Yeltsin said his new Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has the character and determination to do the job. Before his appointment as Prime Minister, Mr. Putin served as head of Russia's domestic intelligence service, the main successor to the Soviet KGB. The day he was nominated, he predicted the rebels would be defeated within two weeks. But a week later, the war has widened, and is threatening to spill over to other republics in the region. The Dagestani government, however, issued a hopeful sign Monday. In a statement posted on its internet website, the government says there has been a steady tendency in boosting the success of federal forces in the region. //rest opt// In another development Monday, two Polish biologists working in the Dagestani Mountains were reported missing and believed kidnapped. A car belonging to the women was found abandoned on a high mountain bridge Sunday. Two Dagestanis travelling with them are also missing. The northern Caucasus has been plagued by kidnappings and other violent crime since the end of the war in Chechnya in 1996. Western journalists have been warned to stay out of Dagestan during the current outbreak of hostilities, and most accounts of the fighting there are based solely on government sources. (Signed) NEB/PFH/PCF/PLM 16-Aug-1999 07:02 AM EDT (16-Aug-1999 1102 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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