TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L-ONLY)
INTRO: Russia's military command says warplanes and
artillery are attacking what they call "rebel
positions" near several eastern and southern villages
in the breakaway Chechen region. Although Russian
forces have not said if they plan to take Chechnya's
capital, Chechens are digging trenches and preparing
to defend Grozny. Correspondent Eve Conant in Moscow
TEXT: Russian military officials say (Tuesday) scores
of Islamic fighters were killed in recent bombing
raids. But in a counter claim, Chechen military
commanders say they've used Russian-made multiple
rocket launchers to kill dozens of government soldiers
and destroy several tanks.
Neither report could be independently confirmed.
Casualty figures from both sides have proven to be
greatly exaggerated since Russia's military campaign
in Chechnya began last month.
Media spokesman for Russia's eastern troops, Gennady
Alekhin, says Russian forces are prepared for an
///Act Alekhin in Russian in full and fade under///
"Russian troops have all the ammunition, machinery,
and food to fulfill whatever task they are assigned
next." He says, "We don't know what that task will be
but we are ready."
The Russian command says it is preparing a second
phase of attacks against Islamic militants throughout
the breakaway republic. But officials have shied away
from saying if Russian troops plan to take the capital
Nonetheless, news reports from Grozny say Islamic
militants are digging trenches and preparing for a
possible attack against the capital. Many parts of
Grozny are still in ruins from Russian bombing attacks
during the 1994-1996 war.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has sent a message to
President Bill Clinton saying Moscow is seeking a
political solution to the conflict. In a statement
released by the Kremlin, President Yeltsin was quoted
as saying Russia seeks to restore "constitutional
order" in the breakaway region.
On Tuesday, Russian television programs aired pictures
of the first small groups of refugees climbing on
buses to return to Chechnya. Russian officials say
they want refugees to populate Chechnya's barren
northern territory, now controlled by Russian forces.
The repatriation effort appears to be designed to show
how life under Moscow's rule is superior to living
under Chechen authority. (Signed)
19-Oct-1999 12:01 PM EDT (19-Oct-1999 1601 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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