Moscow, 22 December 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Russian news agencies today quoted Grozny's mayor Lecha Dudayev as saying that Russian forces had overnight unleashed the fiercest artillery and missile attack on the city in the last 10 days. Dudayev was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying that missiles were exploding all over the city. The Russian military AVN news agency today cited a high-ranking source (unnamed) at military headquarters as saying that an assault to capture Grozny would begin shortly, perhaps within hours.
Russian commanding general Viktor Kazantsev said an operation to capture Grozny was under preparation, but denied Russian forces are planning to storm the capital. Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said a timetable had been set for capturing Grozny, but gave no details. Interfax said Russian troops repulsed Chechen fighters' attempts to break out of Grozny. No verifiable information on casualties was available.