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Chechnya: Russia's Ivanov Rejects International Mediation

Moscow/Grozny, 29 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov today rejected any international mediation in the Chechen conflict. Speaking shortly before a scheduled meeting in Moscow with Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, the current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Ivanov reiterated Moscow's standard view that the North Caucusus is Russia's "internal affair." Vollebaek arrived today in Moscow. He was to meet with Ivanov later in the day (1600 Prague time) and give a press conference before departing for the U.S. Meanwhile, fierce fighting was reported in Chechnya. The Russian military said they continued their intense and massive air, missile, and artillery attacks on Chechen towns and villages, focusing on Grozny, Urus-Martan, and routes toward the border with Georgia in the south.

The Chechen military said their troops retook the eastern settlement of Noibyora and engaged Russian troops near the southeastern village of Vedeno. Both incidents were confirmed by the Russian command.

The Chechen command also said there was continuing fighting around the village of Alleroi, near Grozny, with both the Chechens and the Russians said to be incurring losses.

Yesterday, the Chechens captured the village of Novogroznensky. The Russian command says, however, that the settlement was today taken back. The Russians also reported today an engagement with Chechen fighters around Aikhan-Yurt, southwest of Grozny.

Any assessment of damages and casualties from the fighting is impossible to verify independently.