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Minor Clashes in Chechnya, Peace Negotiators to Meet

Grozny, July 1 (RFE/RL) -- Minor clashes are reported to have taken place in Chechnya as Russian and Chechen peace negotiators are expected to exchange lists of prisoners today.

Itar-Tass quoted the press center of the Russian military command in Chechnya as saying that Russian positions went under fire twelve times in the last 24 hours in the republic, nine times in the capital, Grozny. Two soldiers were reported wounded.

Chechen separatist Information Minister Movladi Udugov said Russian and Chechen separatists are expected to meet in a villag South of Grozny today. They are expected to exchange lists of prisoners taken during the 18-month-long conflict.

Russian president Boris Yeltsin said yesterday Russia will withdraw a total of 5,000 troops within two weeks.

But influential Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev today criticized the peace plan signed last month with Moscow, which includes the Russian withdrawal. He said he is in favor of "continuing military operations without stopping."

Basayev said Russian troops are opening new road checkpoints across Chechnya. He also said the Russian troops who had left have been replaced by fresh units.