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Russia: Chechnya Observes Anniversary Of War's Outbreak

Grozny, 26 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Chechens today celebrated with a military parade and traditional dances the third anniversary of the first clash in their independence war against Moscow.

Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, addressing a crowd of some 20,000 in the capital Grozny, said God recognized Chechnya's independence although Moscow and the outside world did not. Chechnya's 21-month war against Moscow left the political status of Russia's breakaway republic undecided.

Maskhadov made no mention of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's reported intentions to visit Chechnya. Addressing the crowd, Chechen hardline former field commander Salman Raduyev also did not mention Yeltsin's possible trip but indirectly condemned it, saying Yeltsin had Chechen "blood on his hands"

Since the end of the war last year, Chechnya and neighbouring Russian Caucasus republics have witnessed a surge in crime. Earlier today Chechen gunmen abducted nine police officers in Ingushetia. Ingush Interior Minister Daud Karigov was quoted as saying the abductors were aiming to exchange the hostages against eight Chechen guerrillas detained by Russian authorities.