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Chechnya:Ceasefire Discussed By Russian and Chechen Commanders

Grozny, August 13 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen separatist chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov and the Russian commander of federal forces in Chechnya, General Konstantin Pulikovsky, are meeting to discuss a ceasefire, said Chechen separatist spokesman Movladi Udugov. The meeting is taking place in the village of Novye Atagi, some 25 kilometers south of the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Udugov told RFE/RL's Grozny correspondent that Maskhadov will propose a plan for a ceasefire between Chechen separatist fighters and Russian troops fighting for the eighth consecutive day in Grozny.

Fighting between Russian and separatist forces is continuing for an eighth day in Grozny. Separatist spokesman Udugov told RFE/RL the most intense exchange of fire is taking place around the complex of government buildings in the city center.

Chechen fighters today captured Russia's Federal Security Service building in Grozny, the RFE/RL correspondent in Grozny reports.

The separatists remain in control of Grozny's main districts. Russian troops are continuing to use heavy artillery and tanks in an effort to push the separatists out of Grozny. Heavy losses are reported on both sides but no accurate figures could be verified.

Earlier today, the Russian command reported that 20 Russian soldiers were killed, 37 wounded and another 12 missing after an overnight separatist ambush.

Thousands of refugees continue to stream out of Grozny in an attempt to escape the fighting. Some 5,000 Chechens have taken refuge in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia.

The Ingush migratory service is quoted by Itar-Tass as saying authorities are taking measures to shelter and feed the Chechen refugees. Many are being sent to a specially set up center in Sernovodsk.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said today that more than 400 Chechens have taken refuge in neighboring Dagestan.

The UNHCR said some 8,000 people have fled to Dagestan and Ingushetia since the latest flareup in fighting in Chechnya.

Meanwhile, the European Union says it is sending more than $5 million to Chechnya to aid victims of the ongoing fighting between Russian forces and Chechen fighters.

An EU spokesman said today that the aid will be dispersed through the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). The latest aid package brings to $44.5 million the amount sent to the Caucasus republic since Russian troops were sent in December 1994.

The EU money will allow the World Food Program, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and private aid organizations to carry out a coordinated program until the end of the year.