Moscow, April 15 (RFE/RL) - Russia says it began a
gradual withdrawal of its troops from Chechnya today, in line with a
peace plan proposed last month by President Boris Yeltsin.
Our Moscow correspondent quotes the Russian Defense Ministry as
saying Russian forces started withdrawing from the village of
Kargalinskaya, some 90 kms northeast of the Chechen capital, Grozny.
The ministry said Russian troops are moving to the neighboring
Caucasus republic of Dagestan.
The start of the operation was monitored by Yeltsin's National
Security Advisor Yuri Baturin and by the chief commander of Russian
troops in Chechnya, Lt.Gen Vyacheslav Tikhomirov. The Russian ORT
television channel showed pictures of the withdrawal.
Tikhomirov said yesterday that a three-staged partial pullout would
be made over the rest of this year. However, he also warned that the
withdrawal could be suspended if ther situation deteriorates.
Tikhomirov has said "special operations" will continue against
Chechen separatists. The Agence France Press news agency says
Russian warplanes reportedly targetted a number of villages
surrounding Vedeno in southeastern Chechnya today, and Itar-Tass says
Russian forces came under fire overnight in the villages of Bamut,
Orekhovo, Stary-Achkhoy, Tsa-Vedeno and Goyskoye.