Moscow, March 12 (RFE/RL) -- A group of
Russian Duma deputies will leave Moscow for Chechnya today, with the
intention of reaching the village of Bamut by this evening or early
The group is being led by Deputy Yuli Rybakov. Rybakov says the aim
of the visit will be to "avert senseless bloodshed and save the lives
of Russian prisoners-of-war."
Earlier today, Itar-Tass quoted regional administrator said
Khachukaev, who said the entire population of Bamut had left the
settlement, fearing a Russian attack. Bamut is 38 km southwest of the
Chechen capital Grozny. The Moscow-backed Chechen government in
Grozny says separatists are holding Russian hostages in Bamut, who it
says were seized during fighting in Grozny last week. Khachukaev
denied the allegation.
But Russian human rights activist Sergei Kovalev said in Moscow
today that separatists will kill some 90 Russian hostages they are
holding if Bamut is stormed.
Meanwhile, scattered gun battles between Russian forces and
separatist fighters continue in some neighborhoods of the Chechen
Russian federal forces reported nine soldiers and policemen killed
in Grozny overnight. Eleven soldiers were reported injured.
President Boris Yeltsin's Security Council is expected to hold a
special session on the Chechen crisis this week. A senior Yeltsin's
staffer told our correspondent that the Security Council will meet
this Thursday or Friday.