Moscow, April 16 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin said today the war in
Chechnya is coming to an end. His remarks, made while campaigning in the Southern
Krasnodar region, contradict reports of fighting taking place in Southern
The Itar-Tass news agency quoted Yeltsin as telling servicemen in a
military compound that his "peace initiative on Chechnya is working." Earlier
today Yeltsin had avoided the Chechen issue during a meeting with voters in Krasnodar.
Yeltsin ruled out direct talks with Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev. He said
Dudayev has accepted his offer of indirect talks and that Morocco's King Hassan
had joined in efforts to launch peace talks. Yeltsin said other mediators would be
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiyev and Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
But an RFE/RL correspondent in Chechnya quotes Dudayev as saying he
would hold talks with Moscow through Turkish President Suleyman
Demirel or Jordan's King Hussein. However, Dudayev does not rule
out contacts with Shaimiyev and Nazarbayev.
Meanwhile Russian planes continued to attack villages in Southern
and Southeastern Chechnya today. An RFE/RL correspondent in the area
reports intensive fighting in villages around the rebel strenghold of
Vedeno and the Russian military command in Chechnya said Russian planes
have bombed the village of Martan-Chu, south of Grozny.
The Russian Military Commander in Chechnya, Lt.Gen. Vyacheslav
Tikhomirov, said Russia will continue its withdrawal this week, with another
six battalions pulling out of Northern Chechnya.