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Russia: Chechens Await Russian Assault On Grozny

Moscow, 22 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today said that the military campaign in Chechnya was near its end. But he said there was no firm date for ending the war and everything would be done to limit casualties among Russian troops. Interfax news agency quoted Russian military sources as saying that the necessary manpower and equipment were now in place for an imminent attack on the Chechen capital Grozny.

Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov today was reported to have ordered fighters, except some defending Grozny, to move to mountain strongholds.

Maskhadov's spokesman, Said-Selim Abdulmuslimov, said fighting continued today in various parts of the city and a Russian assault on Grozny appeared likely.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International, the London-based human rights watchdog, published a report today which says that Chechens living in Moscow or detained in Russian security camps have been subjected to torture and official harassment.