TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L)
INTRO: Russia has rejected outside mediation in the
conflict in breakaway Chechnya, calling the situation
an internal affair. But as Correspondent Peter
Heinlein reports from the Russian capital, a European
Union delegation visiting Moscow has called for Russia
to explain its military adventure in the breakaway
TEXT: E-U Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten
arrived (Thursday) in Moscow, saying he wants an
explanation from Russian officials about what is going
on in Chechnya. Mr. Patten headed a trio of senior E-
U officials in meetings with Russian Foreign Minister
Mr. Patten told an interviewer there is growing
concern in free societies about the information coming
out of the northern Caucasus, where Russian troops are
pouring into Chechnya under cover of air strikes, and
civilians are fleeing by the thousands.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Gusarov
earlier rejected suggestions that the E-U might
mediate an end to the Chechnya crisis. He said --
negotiations between the federal government and a
member of the federation would be a strange thing.
But Mr. Patten said that eventually, a negotiated
solution would have to be found.
/// PATTEN ACT ///
I think everybody recognizes that sooner or later, if
there is to be security and stability in the northern
Caucasus, people are going to have to sit down around
a table and talk things out.
/// END ACT ///
With pictures and news accounts about civilian
casualties in Chechnya and the squalid conditions in
refugee camps in neighboring Ingushetia beginning to
reach the outside world, Russia has announced plans to
change its policy toward the news media. Recently
appointed Media Minister Mikhail Lesin says the
changes are designed to stifle what he called --
aggression among reporters.
At the dedication of a new Chechnya media information
center, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the
government's aim is to make sure reporting is
/// PUTIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER
He says -- if the truth does not come out quickly, the
gap is filled with propaganda that is distorted or
false. He said the aim of the Chechen media center is
to ensure he citizens' right to the truth. The center
will be run by Russia's foreign ministry.
The difficulty of determining the truth in a war zone
was demonstrated in Chechnya, where local officials
claimed a Russian rocket hit a busload of refugees,
killing as many as 40-people. Chechen television
showed pictures of rescue workers removing bodies from
the charred wreckage.
A Chechen journalist working for the Associated Press
reported visiting a morgue in the capital, Grozny that
was filled with the bodies of victims of the attack.
But Russian officials called the reports --
disinformation. Prime Minister Putin told reporters
in Moscow that if there had been such an incident,
refugees would not still be fleeing to Russia. And
Russian media made no mention of the attack.
07-Oct-1999 11:52 AM EDT (07-Oct-1999 1552 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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