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Russia: Yeltsin Orders Military To End Dagestan Rebellion Quickly

Moscow, 7 September 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin chaired a meeting of his Security Council today and ordered the military to swiftly put down a rebellion by Islamic militants in the southern republic of Dagestan. Yeltsin decided to chair the Security Council meeting himself rather than leave the task to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He called the rebels in Dagestan "murderers" and "degenerates" and ordered the military to be tough and act quickly in squashing the uprising. Earlier in the day, Yeltsin criticized the military for what he called "carelessness" in allowing the incursion of the militants from the neighboring republic of Chechnya. Hundreds of armed Chechen militants crossed into the republic on Sunday, seizing several villages. The rebels have also been blamed for detonating a bomb late Saturday at a Russian military housing complex in Buinaksk. The explosion killed at least 61 people.

Russian forces continued heavy air and artillery attacks in the west of the republic. Khasavyurt, the second largest city in the republic, is reported to be filled with Russian army and police forces. The rebels now hold at least five villages close to the city, which lies just 15 kilometers from the border with Chechnya.