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DATE=1/29/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA - GROZNY - BATTLE (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-258556 BYLINE=BILL GASPERINI DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Fighting continues to rage near the center of Grozny, capital of Russia's breakaway Chechen republic, as Russian troops try to move forward. The conflict continues amid calls from the international community for a negotiated solution. TEXT: Fighting in Grozny has reached a kind of deadly stalemate as Chechen fighters have all but blocked the movement of Russian forces. Russian troops are trying to creep forward block-by- block... but the Chechens find perfect cover in the rubble of buildings, allowing them to hit back at the much larger Russian force. Russian officials now acknowledge that this is causing the casualty rate to rise; there're some estimates that 20 men are being killed each day. Last week the Defense Ministry said well over one- thousand had been killed since the war began last September, more than double the previous estimate. Despite this, Russian leaders say the campaign will continue. On Friday Acting President Vladimir Putin said Russia had to fight against what he called "diabolic forces" which are "trying to tear Russia apart." Mr. Putin's current popularity is largely due to his hard-line stand against the Chechen fighters, whom he calls "terrorists". Several days ago Russian officials declared a security alert after a leading Chechen warlord threatened to launch attacks in Russia itself in retaliation for the war. Police checkpoints have been set up around the country, especially on the outskirts of major cities including Moscow. Meanwhile United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for an end to the war in Chechnya. Mr. Annan is wrapping up a three-day visit to Russia. (Signed) NEB/BG/PLM TEXT: NEB/WTW/ 29-Jan-2000 05:47 AM EDT (29-Jan-2000 1047 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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