TITLE=RUSSIA-CHECHNYA (L-O UPDATE)
INTRO: On Friday, Russia said it had temporarily
stopped its assault on Grozny, capital of the
breakaway Chechen republic. Now full-scale fighting
is reported in several areas, with the Chechens
launching attacks against Russian troops.
TEXT: Heavy fighting is reported once again in Grozny
after a two-day pause declared by the Russians for the
Orthodox Christmas holiday.
Helicopter gunships have been rocketing Chechen
positions as ground troops continue trying to advance
into the city. But the Chechens have also gone on the
offensive, trying to retake a strategic airfield on
the outskirts of Grozny.
Chechen fighters have also attacked two towns that
have long been under Russian control.
In the town of Argun east of Grozny Chechen fighters
reportedly trapped Russian soldiers inside the
military headquarters and train station. The Chechens
also say they attacked a Russian checkpoint by firing
at the troops from a bus.
Such raids are characteristic of Chechen strategy in
what they call the partisan struggle against the
Russians. Moscow's forces may occupy most of
Chechnya, but remain vulnerable to hit-and-run
None of this is what Russia's new leader wants to
hear. Acting President Vladimir Putin's popularity
with Russian voters stems mostly from his tough line
against the Chechens, and a new presidential election
is due to be held in March. (SIGNED)
09-Jan-2000 14:59 PM EDT (09-Jan-2000 1959 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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