TITLE=RUSSIA - CHECHNYA UPDATE - L
INTRO: Russian forces are intensifying attacks on the
Chechen capital, Grozny, as they try to isolate the
city and cut off the main supply routes. V-O-A's Peter
Heinlein in Moscow reports leaflets air-dropped on the
besieged city are warning civilians to get out.
TEXT: Refugees pouring out of Chechnya Sunday said
Russian airplanes dropped leaflets advising them of
safe routes out of the city. Deputy Prime Minister
Nikolai Koshman told the N-T-V television channel a
corridor has been left open, but said he believes most
civilians have already left.
Grozny's Mayor Lecha Dudayev said at least 260, maybe
as many as 500 civilians have been killed since
Thursday, when federal forces began nearly round the
clock bombing of the city. A line of cars filled with
people trying to escape the bombardment was backed up
nine kilometers from the border with neighboring
Ingushetia, where more than 200-thousand refugees are
already sheltering, many in squalid conditions.
Russian commanders have said they have no plan to
invade Grozny. They say they have learned their
lessons from the last war, when thousands of federal
troops were wiped out as they rolled in to the
capital. Instead, the plan appears to be to demolish
Grozny, then proclaim Chechnya's second city Gudermes,
the capital. Gudermes, 35 kilometers to the east, was
captured without much resistance earlier this month.
N-T-V television reported Sunday that Russian
warplanes are also battering the strategic town of
Urus-Martan, 20 kilometers south of Grozny. The report
said a large part of the center of the city was
Urus-Martan lies along a strategic route linking
Grozny with the rebel-held south of the republic.
/// OPT /// The Interfax news agency says warplanes
also struck the Argun gorge, another key supply route
south. /// END OPT ///
In another development Sunday, Iran asked Russia for
permission to lead an Islamic delegation to Moscow to
discuss a political settlement of the war. At a joint
news conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov, Iranian Minister Kamal Kharazzi said he
had suggested that Iran head the delegation in its
role as chairman of the Organization of Islamic
The Russian minister reacted coolly to the proposal,
saying the international community agrees the military
offensive in Chechnya is an internal Russian affair.
But Mr. Ivanov was reported to have said he would
bring up the idea at Monday's Russian cabinet meeting.
Iran has echoed western concerns about the use of
excessive force against civilians in Chechnya, but has
avoided direct criticism of the Russian government.
28-Nov-1999 17:06 PM EDT (28-Nov-1999 2206 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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