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Chechnya: Russia Says Threat Will Unite It With NATO

Mosocow, 25 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's government spokesman on Chechen affairs, Sergei Yastrzhembskii, said today that a rebel leader's threat of more terrorist attacks will help unite Russia and Western nations in the fight against terrorism. Chechen rebel commander Shamil Basaev issued the threat in a statement published by German newspaper "Welt am Sonntag" yesterday. He said all "military, economic, and strategic" sites in Russia will become targets unless talks on ending the three-year war begin soon. Basaev called on NATO to put pressure on Russia to negotiate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected similar demands from Basaev supporters when they were issued during the takeover of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels one month ago.

A Moscow health official said today that the attack and rescue operation has claimed the life of the 129th hostage, a woman who died in a hospital yesterday.