TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECNYA (L)
INTRO: Russia is keeping up its air and artillery
bombardment of the Chechen capital, Grozny, and has
also intensified bombing of rebel strongholds in
Chechnya's southern mountains. But as V-O-A's Peter
Heinlein in Moscow reports, the attempt by federal
troops to capture the center of Grozny appears to be
TEXT: Reports from Chechnya speak of another day of
massive air attacks and street fighting in and around
Grozny. Warplanes are said to have carried out 89
raids, while artillery and rockets were reported
falling on the city all day.
// OPT // Each side claims to have inflicted heavy
casualties on the enemy, but there is no way to
verify the reports. In the past, both sides have been
guilty of giving out wildly exaggerated enemy casualty
reports, while hiding their own dead and wounded. //
END OPT //
Rebel spokesman, Movladi Udugov, tells news agencies
Chechen fighters drove federal troops out of three
villages on the southwestern edge of Grozny. He says
clashes are continuing around the village of Alkhan-
Yurt, scene of an alleged massacre by Russian troops
Mr. Udugov says the rebel operation at Alkhan-Yurt is
being led by Chechen field commander, Arbi Barayev.
Russian commanders reported several-days ago that Mr.
Barayev had been killed in combat.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman denied that
Alkhan-Yurt was back in rebel hands. It is impossible
to verify the conflicting claims, but if true, the
fall of Alkhan-Yurt would be a stunning reversal for
Russian troops, who have seen their march into Grozny
stymied by fierce rebel resistance.
// OPT // Little independent information from
Chechnya is reaching the outside world. Two of the
three main international wire services reporting on
the war Monday datelined their stories from Moscow.
The dispatches were based mostly on official Russian
government sources, or information received by
telephone from Chechen spokesman Udugov, who
occasionally contacts western news agencies. // END
But the scant data available indicate the Russian
advance into Grozny is stalled. When the operation to
capture the capital began more than a week ago,
federal commanders confidently predicted on television
that they would take the city within days. The latest
T-V reports from the state-controlled channels quote
soldiers as saying they are encountering much tougher
than expected resistance.
The French news agency quotes a senior Russian
Interior Ministry officer at the front as saying he
had lost 50-killed and 100-wounded in the past 48-
hours. The officer, whose name was not given, said --
it is not possible to take Grozny this way. He said
unless more army troops are committed, the war may
drag on much longer.
In Moscow, acting President Vladimir Putin ignored the
Monday holiday and held a Kremlin meeting with his
senior most official on Chechen affairs, Deputy Prime
Minister Nikolai Koshman. Afterward, Mr. Koshman told
reporters the discussions had centered on restoring
electricity and other essential services to areas of
Chechnya that have been returned to federal control.
03-Jan-2000 09:51 AM EDT (03-Jan-2000 1451 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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