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Russia: Government Says Situation In Chechnya 'Normal'

Moscow, 13 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo today arrived at the Mozdok military base in North Ossetia to reassure the Russian population that federal troops are in control of the situation in Chechnya. Accompanied by chief-of-staff General Anatoly Kvashnin and Russia's point man for Chechnya, Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Koshman, Rushailo said the situation in Chechnya was "normal." Meanwhile, fighting continued in Grozny and other areas of Chechnya, with Russian warplanes and artillery attacking the towns of Argun, Shali, and Vedeno as well as villages and roads in the southern mountains.

Lt.-Col. Konstantin Kukharenko, a Russian military spokesman, said soldiers were checking residents' identity papers in Argun, Shali, and in two eastern villages, Khati-Ara and Baitarki.

As of yesterday, Russian troops guarding the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia were no longer allowing males aged 10 to 60 either to enter or leave Chechnya.

The measure prompted Ingush President Ruslan Aushev to say that Russia was violating the human rights of ordinary Chechen citizens. The measure was also criticized by the U.S.