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Russia: Russians Alert In Chechnya As World War Two Anniversary Nears

Grozny, 5 May 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian troops in Chechnya are on high alert after reports that Chechen separatists may be planning attacks on 9 May, the Russian holiday marking the end of World War Two in Europe. Russian military officials say Chechen fighters have already attacked federal checkpoints across the republic 14 times in the past 24 hours. There are conflicting, unconfirmed claims on casualties.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin's Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov said today that Chechnya will be placed under direct presidential rule later this month.

"A presidential decree is being prepared and simultaneously, a bill will go to the State Duma for consideration on direct federal rule in Chechnya. This is not a secret. We have said many times that the choice of a leader for Chechnya, whoever he might be -- president or head of the local parliament -- is not relevant right now."

Ivanov said presidential rule would continue for two or three years.