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Russia: General Claims Chechen Warlord Is Trapped

Moscow, 12 October 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russia claims to have trapped Chechen warlord Shamil Basaev. ITAR-TASS quotes General Vladimir Shamanov--commander of Russia's 58th army--as saying Basaev was caught in a village called Garagorsk, 60 km northwest of the Chechen capital, Grozny. Shamanov made his comments during a meeting with Chechen elders in the Nadterechny region. The Nadterechny region came under Russian control yesterday when Moscow's forces advanced south of the strategic Terek River, which bisects the republic and forms the boundary of what Moscow calls its "security zone" in the republic. Basayev--a renowned field commander during the 1994-96 Chechen war--had threatened to unleash a terrorist campaign against Russia unless it halted its military drive. However, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is backing Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, who says Russian troops may try to seize control of Chechnya's capital, Grozny. Putin says peace talks with Chechnya can begin only after its president hands over militants Moscow blames for a deadly wave of bomb attacks in Russia and for invading the Russian republic of Dagestan.