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DATE=11/30/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L) NUMBER=2-256666 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russian forces are pounding the Chechen city of Urus-Martan with artillery rounds and rockets as part of their campaign to encircle the Chechen capital, Grozny. V-O-A Moscow Correspondent Eve Conant reports civilians in Grozny are said to be hiding in basements, afraid to leave the city, fearing they will be targeted by Russian forces if they try to escape. TEXT: Eyewitness reports say automatic-weapons fire can be heard during breaks in bombing attacks as Russian troops try to advance on Urus-Martan from the west. The city, 20 kilometers south of Grozny, is believed to be part of a supply route for Chechen fighters in the mountainous south. The commander of Russia's armed forces in the North Caucasus, Viktor Kazantsev, says Russian forces are not carrying out as many attacks as news media are reporting. /// KAZANTSEV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// "Why is the [Russian] mass media frightening our citizens?" he asks. "They say we carried out 100 sorties when we only carried out 21. And," he says, "16 of them only hit terrorist bases in the mountains." Information from Chechen military sources is not available, and communication links to the Chechen leadership have been cut off. Meanwhile, residents in Grozny are struggling to survive after weeks without electricity or heat. Witnesses say many are hiding in freezing basements, going outside only to collect firewood from destroyed buildings. Civilians trapped in the city are quoted as saying they are afraid to leave. They say Russian warplanes and helicopter gunships target vehicles driving toward the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, where more than 230-thousand refugees have fled. Refugees reaching the border say the road out of Chechnya is littered with the burned- out shells of civilian cars hit by Russian forces. (Signed) NEB/EC/JWH/WTW 30-Nov-1999 11:09 AM EDT (30-Nov-1999 1609 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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