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Russia: Human Rights Group Arrives In Dagestan

Grozny, 1 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - A European human rights delegation arrived today in Dagestan, the eastern neighbor of Chechnya, to discuss the plight of Chechen refugees affected by the fighting in their country. Led by Alvaro Gil-Robles, the Council of Europe human rights commissioner, the delegation had earlier visited Ingushetia and northern areas of Chechnya currently under Russian control. It is estimated that more than 230,000 Chechens fled their country to escape the Russian military offensive. Meanwhile, Chechen officials say their forces engaged Russian troops in several areas, including the village of Alleroi as well as the eastern region of Novogroznensky and the village of Noibyora. The officials said fighting has spread to the outskirts of Gudermes, taken by the Russians three weeks ago.

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev today admitted that Chechen forces had launched a series of counterattacks. Speaking in Moscow to troops of an infantry division being sent to Chechnya, Sergeyev stopped short of providing details.

The Russian military command in the North Caucasus said its forces were continuing attacks on Urus-Martan and Argun, two towns south of the capital Grozny. Any assessment of damages or casualties from those clashes could not be independently confirmed.