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DATE=11/15/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L) NUMBER=2-256177 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: President Boris Yeltsin has vowed to defend Russia's military offensive in Chechnya against a chorus of international criticism at this week's European security summit in Turkey. Correspondent Peter Heinlein in Moscow reports Mr. Yeltsin will lead a large Russian delegation to the meeting. TEXT: President Yeltsin lashed out at Western criticism of the war in Chechnya. He told Kremlin reporters there would be no halt to the punishing military campaign as long as, in his words - a single terrorist remains on our territory. Mr. Yeltsin said he would personally lead Russia's delegation to the O-S-C-E summit beginning Thursday in Istanbul. He will be accompanied by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, and several other senior officials, including the chief of the humanitarian effort attempting to help those fleeing the war zone. Meanwhile, international criticism of the conflict continues to mount. /// OPT /// French President Jacques Chirac is quoted as describing the Chechen campaign as a -- tragic error. U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan told Prime Minister Putin the scale of the Russian offensive seems to have gone far beyond the stated objective of flushing out -- terrorists. /// END OPT /// But in comments Sunday and Monday, Mr. Yeltsin gave his prime minister a solid vote of confidence. In broadcast remarks, the Russian leader ridiculed published reports he was about to fire Mr. Putin, and said he still favors the former spy agency chief as his successor. /// YELTSIN ACT -- IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// He says - I suggested Mr. Putin run for the presidency. There is no question of him being fired. With the O-S-C-E summit just a few days away, Russian media, the main source of information about the war, appear to have sharply curtailed their coverage. Unconfirmed reports indicate the Chechen capital, Grozny, is being heavily bombarded, possibly in preparation for a ground assault. /// OPT /// But the generals who have trumpeted the success of Russia's long-range strikes have disappeared from television screens. Instead, Army Chief of Staff Anatoly Kvashnin was shown Monday lashing out at foreign critics of the war. /// OPT KVASHNIN ACT -IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// He says -- it is Russian territory. Do they think we are a group of foreign states? We are one single indivisible Russia. /// END OPT /// While news of events inside Chechnya is scarce, the flow of refugees from the war zone is growing. The number of Chechens fleeing to neighboring regions has passed 210-thousand. E-U Foreign Affairs Representative Javier Solana was quoted (Monday) as saying the European Union is urging Russia to open Chechnya's borders to allow international humanitarian organizations access to refugees. In an interview published in a German newspaper, Mr. Solana said -- we are trying to persuade (Russia) to scale down operations and work toward a political solution because the conflict cannot be resolved militarily. (SIGNED) NEB/PFH/JWH/RAE 15-Nov-1999 10:21 AM EDT (15-Nov-1999 1521 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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