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Russia: Prime Minister Meets Former Chechen Parliament

Moscow, 1 October 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today met with Chechnya's former parliament, saying its members were "the most legitimate body" according to Russian law. Moscow organized the rival government during Russia's 1994-96 war with Chechnya, although it was dissolved when the conflict ended. Parliamentary speaker Ali Alavdinov said the meeting was "constructive" and that the former government will move to Chechnya "in the near future." Late yesterday, several thousand Russian troops and more than 1,000 armored vehicles entered northern Chechnya. No further details were immediately available.

Russian officials have accused the Chechen government of controlling militants who twice invaded Dagestan. Moscow blames the same rebels for a series of explosions in Russian cities that have killed nearly 300 people.

U.N. officials in Moscow said there may be as many as 100,000 Chechen displaced persons in Ingushetia within days. Civilians began fleeing their homes on Sept. 5 when Russia began daily airstrikes on Grozny. Military officials reported some 20 airstrikes over the past 24 hours.