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DATE=1/9/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA-CHECHNYA (L-O UPDATE) NUMBER=2-257913 BYLINE=BILL GASPERINI DATELINE=MOSCOW INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 attacks. 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) NEB/WG/RAE 09-Jan-2000 14:59 PM EDT (09-Jan-2000 1959 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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