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DATE=12/1/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L) NUMBER=2-256705 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia's Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev says Russian forces might need up to three more months to complete their military campaign in Chechnya. Moscow Correspondent Eve Conant reports Russian military officials admit Chechen fighters have launched a series of counter attacks, but they say the rebels will not succeed in defeating Russian forces. TEXT: Defense Minister Sergeyev admits Chechen militants are carrying out a series of counter attacks against federal troops in several villages as well as in the outskirts of Gudermes, the first major city occupied by Russian troops. But Mr. Sergeyev says federal forces will not be stopped by Chechen fighters. /// SERGEYEV ACT ONE - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// He says -- the situation is getting worse for the Chechens. He calls that -- a logical result of our operation which I think will continue for another one, two, or three months. Predictions on how long the campaign will last have varied. Some generals have said the offensive could be over by New Year's Day, while other officials have said the campaign could continue for up to three- years. The campaign is in its fourth month, and Russian forces are clearly encountering increased resistance from Chechen fighters as they try to encircle the capital, Grozny, and other strategic villages. But Mr. Sergeyev says his forces will capture the town of Argun, which guards the eastern entrance to Grozny. /// SERGEYEV ACT TWO - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// He says -- Argun has been blocked, and over the next two or three days we will liberate the town. He says -- more of the population of Chechnya is helping us to eliminate the fighters. Russian news agencies report residents of Argun have asked federal troops to stop shelling their town, saying all Chechen fighters have left. Refugees fleeing the region to neighboring republics say Russian troops are storming villages near the capital, killing and wounding civilians. (SIGNED) NEB/EC/JWH/RAE 01-Dec-1999 08:31 AM EDT (01-Dec-1999 1331 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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