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Chechnya: Council Of Europe Officials To Visit Russian-Held Areas

Moscow, 19 January 2000 (RFE/RL) - A delegation from the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly is set today to visit Russian-controlled areas of Chechnya and the neighboring republic of Ingushetia. ITAR-TASS quotes the head of the Ingush government staff, Magomed Markhiyev, saying the delegation will visit a Chechen refugee tent camp there and a place in Karabulak where humanitarian assistance is distributed to refugees. The delegation will hold talks with Ingush leaders and representatives of the federal ministries and departments supervising the refugee problem. The council, which promotes human rights and democracy in Europe, is to hold a debate on Chechnya next week (Jan. 27), with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov presenting a report on the situation.

Meanwhile, there was fierce fighting yesterday between Russian and Chechen forces in the Chechen capital Grozny. The Russian military said its troops pushed into the city from two directions and had established control over part of central Grozny. Ministry of Defense spokesman Konstantin Kuharenko said the city would soon fall. Russian forces also continued their air and artillery attacks on areas around the Argun gorge and the town of Vedeno.