Grozny, 4 October 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian forces are today reported pushing
deeper into Chechen territory in their campaign against Islamic extremists. A
Reuter correspondent reports that artillery fire can be heard in the Chechen
capital Grozny. He says the firing is coming from the Shelkovskaya district,
about 40 kilometers northeast of the city, along the Terek river, which is frequently mentioned as forming a natural frontier for
Moscow's plans to create a security zone in Chechnya. Tens of thousands of Chechen refugees are streaming into
Dagestan and Ingushetia, creating the potential for a serious
The Russian commander in neighboring Dagestan, General Gennady Troshev,
said his forces have now completed a security zone around Chechnya, designed to
prevent infiltration by Islamic militants.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Chechen refugees are streaming into
Dagestan and Ingushetia. The chairman of the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Knut Vollebaek, said in Moscow that a serious
humanitarian situation appears to be developing. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin said a state panel will be formed to resettle the Chechen refugees in land
now under Russian control.
Putin told a news conference today there is "every reason" to believe
Islamic extremist leaders are behind terrorist blasts which have killed almost
300 people in Russia in the last month. Putin named Chechen Islamic rebel leader
Shamil Basayev, and another Islamist leader, Khattab, as suspects.
He said the two are on Interpol's wanted list. He said both must be
arrested and brought to trial to determine their guilt. Basayev and Khattab led
the incursions by Islamic militants based in Chechnya into Dagestan in August
and last month.
Further, Putin again called into question the legitimacy of the President
of the breakaway Chechen republic, Aslan Maskhadov.