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DATE=1/9/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA - CHECHNYA (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-257905 BYLINE=BILL GASPERINI DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia has stopped its air and artillery barrage against Grozny, capital of the breakaway Chechen republic. But the Chechens say fighting does go on...amid speculation about what will come next. Bill Gasperini has more. TEXT: Grozny is reported to be mostly quiet on the second day of a unilateral cease-fire by the Russians. Russian commanders say they halted the fierce air and artillery bombardment because of Moslem and Orthodox Christian holidays this weekend. But a Chechen spokesman told Russian radio that attacks on Grozny do continue... and that the cease-fire is a way for Russia to justify its failure to seize the city. Russia's offensive against Grozny has stalled after weeks of heavy fighting, and some analysts believe the current pause is to help troops regroup. Two top Russian field commanders were replaced on Friday in a sign that Moscow is upset about the failure to take Grozny after many predictions the city would soon fall. But Acting President Vladimir Putin disputes this, saying the replacements were routine. There's little doubt, however, that things have not been going well for the Russians in the last two weeks. Many soldiers have said privately their units have been taking heavy casualties, far more than are acknowledged publicly. It's difficult to confirm casualty figures because Russia sharply restricts access to the front lines. Some observers predict that Mr. Putin will soon announce more changes as a way to demonstrate control over the situation. The acting leader's popularity is due mostly to the perceived success in the Chechen war, and presidential elections are due to be held in March. (Signed) NEB/BG/PLM 09-Jan-2000 06:05 AM EDT (09-Jan-2000 1105 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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