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DATE=12/2/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-256754 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russian military officials say Chechen militants have set up strong defenses in the capital, Grozny, and are fighting Russian troops in two towns near the city. Russia's foreign minister, meanwhile, says Moscow will not let the West dictate when the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (O-S-C-E) in Europe will be allowed to visit Chechnya. V-O-A Moscow correspondent Eve Conant reports. TEXT: For days, Russian artillery and warplanes have been bombarding Argun, a small town five kilometers east of the Chechen capital, Grozny. Rebel fighters in Argun are putting up some of the strongest resistance to federal troops since the start of Moscow's military offensive. Russian General Gennady Troshev, however, says fighting in eastern regions has been successful. /// Troshev Act in Russian in full and fade under /// "As a result of fighting there," he says, "more than 100 rebels were killed. This time," he adds, "they left at least 40 bodies behind them." Russian television broadcast pictures of what military officials say are dozens of Chechen fighters killed in the latest fighting. General Troshev says Russian forces will continue their offensive despite an increased number of violent clashes with Chechen militants. /// Troshev Act in Russian in full and fade under /// "Our strategy is simple. If they shoot at us from a house, we destroy the house," he says. "If they shoot from all over a village, we destroy the village." Military sources say thousands of Chechen fighters are well entrenched in Grozny. Russian news agencies report Russian warplanes have been dropping high explosive bombs on the city, while Chechen fighters in Argun and nearby Urus-Martan are fighting back with large supplies of anti-aircraft guns, grenade launchers and small arms. Meanwhile, there is little sign that international observers or humanitarian groups will be able to enter the region any time soon. In Moscow, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters that Russia would not let the West dictate the timing of a visit to Chechnya by O-S-C-E chief Knut Vollebaek. Earlier this week, Mr. Vollebaek visited to Moscow to arrange the trip, but Russian officials would not set a date for his group to visit the breakaway republic. (Signed) NEB/EC/GE/JP 02-Dec-1999 10:43 AM EDT (02-Dec-1999 1543 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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