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Russia: Moscow Sees Distant End To Chechen Conflict

Moscow, 2 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev appears to be backing away from earlier claims that the capital city Grozny will fall to federal troops by mid-December, warning that it may take Russia another three months to subdue separatists in the breakaway republic of Chechnya. His remarks come as Chechnya increasingly dominates campaigning for Russia's parliamentary elections later this month. Because of the high degree of public approval for the war and the subsequent rise in popularity of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, some analysts of Russia have suggested that the Kremlin wants the conflict to continue until the summer presidential election. Putin is reportedly the Kremlin's choice to succeed Boris Yeltsin.