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DATE=11/2/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CHECHNYA BORDER SCENE (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-255754 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=ON THE CHECHNYA-INGUSHETIA BORDER INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia's current military offensive in Chechnya has triggered a mass exodus of civilians -- an estimated 200-thousand people. About one-fifth of Chechnya's people had fled from Russian air and artillery strikes even before Moscow's troops sealed the border nearly two weeks ago, leaving thousands more would-be refugees trapped inside the territory. V-O-A's Peter Heinlein went (today/Tuesday) to the main checkpoint on the Chechnya border, where a line of cars 15 kilometers long has been waiting for days for the border to be reopened. TEXT: /// SFX: GATE CLOSING AND HORN HONKING /// They call this Kavkaz-One. It is a makeshift border post on the main highway from the Chechen capital, Grozny, west to the neighboring republic of Ingushetia. A gate has been hastily installed. On one side, hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of Chechen women, children and a few men jam the roadway, hoping for an opportunity to pass. On the other side, a safe distance away from the angry crowd, stands a menacing line of Russians soldiers in full battle gear blocking their path. This is the Ingushetia side of the border. The people here, in what seems to defy common sense, are trying to get into Chechnya. They are among those who got out before the road was closed late last month. Most say they want to go back to search for missing loved ones. A few kilometers down the road, out of sight, is the other side of the checkpoint, where thousands more people are trying to get out of Chechnya. They have been waiting since last week, when Russian authorities promised to reopen the frontier. Those promises have gone unfulfilled, and frustrated Chechens can only scream their frustrations. /// GUDEYEVA ACT IN RUSSIAN, IN AND FADE UNDER /// Khadizhat Gudeyeva of the nearby village of Assinovskaya says, "They want to put us on our knees, humiliate us. Why are they trying to make us out as terrorists? We're not!" Every once in a while, the big checkpoint gate swings open and a bus loaded with lucky refugees lumbers through. They're mostly the sick, the wounded, the elderly and pregnant women. About 100 people came across this day. Most, like Tamara Magomedova of Grozny, had been waiting for more than 10 days. /// MAGOMEDOVA ACT IN RUSSIAN, IN AND FADE UNDER /// She says, "It's pure genocide what they're doing -- destruction of the Chechen nation." Russian forces say the current Chechnya offensive is aimed at crushing terrorists and bandits. With the border closed and telephone lines to Chechnya cut, there is little independent information from the war zone, but newly-arrived refugees say the region's major population centers are under furious air attack. Ausha Tatayeva left Grozny only hours earlier. She was allowed to pass the checkpoint because her son is paralyzed. She says conditions in the capital are worsening daily. /// TATAYEVA ACT IN RUSSIAN, IN AND FADE UNDER /// She says, "They've been bombing steadily for four days. It is civilians being killed. The situation could not be worse." Standing at the border, there is no doubt war is on just kilometers away. The roar of jets or boom of artillery can be heard every few minutes from the direction of Chechnya. But with the border closed, a mass exodus from the region has stopped. (Signed) NEB/PH/TVM-T/WTW 02-Nov-1999 19:00 PM EDT (03-Nov-1999 0000 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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