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Chechnya: Council Of Europe Officials Meet Putin In Moscow

Moscow, 17 January 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says the Council of Europe is now "better informed" about the situation in Chechnya after a council delegation met today with acting president Vladimir Putin. During the meeting, Putin told the delegation to judge Russia's actions on "true facts" -- not propaganda. Ivanov said Russia's possible suspension from the council because of its conduct in Chechnya had not been discussed at the meeting. Earlier, the head of the delegation, Lord David Russell-Johnston, warned that the conflict could lead to a suspension.

Meanwhile, Russian forces continued their attacks on Grozny and other Chechen villages, particularly in the vicinity of the southern Argun gorge and the town of Vedeno. Warplanes were said to have flown more than 110 bombing sorties during the last 24 hours. No independent assessment of damage and casualties was available. Yesterday, the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, a soldiers' rights group, said some 3,000 Russian soldiers had been killed and up to 6,000 had been wounded so far in the war. Russia's Ministry of Defense has said 500 soldiers were killed and about 1,600 wounded.