TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L)
INTRO: Russia, bowing to international pressure, has
agreed to allow a top United Nations official to visit
the northern Caucasus, including parts of breakaway
Chechnya. But at the same time, a senior Russian
general has issued a stern warning to the West to stay
out of Russia's internal affairs. V-O-A Correspondent
Peter Heinlein reports from Moscow.
TEXT: U-N High Commissioner for refugees Sadako Ogata
arrived in Moscow Wednesday saying she came to convey
Secretary General Kofi Annan's concerns, both about
battling terrorism and caring for civilians.
After meeting with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Ms.
Ogata said she had received permission for a trip to
the Northern Caucasus. She will inspect the condition
of camps in Ingushetia, where many of the 210-thousand
refugees from Chechnya are sheltering. She also said
she expects to visit parts of the breakaway region
recently returned to Russian control.
/// OGATA ACT ///
We will be travelling in the field tomorrow
(Thursday), hopefully to Ingushetia and to
Chechnya itself, in order to get a more exact
understanding of the developments there.
/// END ACT ///
Standing alongside Ms. Ogata, Foreign Minister Ivanov
said Moscow attaches great importance to the High
Commissioner's visit. He told reporters "We have
nothing to hide."
In another development, Air Force Chief of Staff
Anatoly Kornukov angrily reminded the west Wednesday
Russia is a nuclear armed country, and would not
tolerate outside interference in its campaign to
restore control over Chechnya.
/// KORNUKOV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says, "Russia is not Iraq. It is not Yugoslavia.
And any attempt to interfere will be resolutely
General Kornukov's warning came on the eve of the
European security summit, where Chechnya is dominating
discussions. But in what may be a concession to world
opinion, reports from the western sector of the war
zone indicate there may be a letup in the fierce
Russian military offensive.
Journalists along the border report the heavy
artillery and rocket fire that could be heard in the
distance for the past several weeks has fallen silent.
The French news agency, however, suggests another
possible reason for the quiet. The agency quoted
Russian military officials as saying they have
captured the Chechen stronghold of Bamut along the
western border. Bamut had symbolized Chechnya's
battle for independence during the earlier war in the
region, from 1994 to 1996. (Signed)
17-Nov-1999 13:20 PM EDT (17-Nov-1999 1820 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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