Moscow, 14 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - Moscow's top civilian representative in Chechnya, Nikolai Koshman, said that the republic's shattered capital, Grozny, would not be rebuilt this year and should be declared a "closed city." Koshman said that mines, booby-trapped underground pipes, and corpses meant the city was unsafe.
In the Soviet era "closed cities" were usually sensitive military areas with tightly-controlled access.
Koshman said that funds for rebuilding Grozny would have to come from Chechnya's own budget.
Russian officials said 150,000 of 320,000 Chechen displaced persons have returned to the republic.
The Russian Air Force continued attacking guerrilla strongholds in Chechnya's mountainous south today. Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said troops were preparing to attack the Argun gorge, one of two main gateways to the mountain strongholds.