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Chechnya: Rebels Deny Russian Claims Of Offensive, Encirclement

Moscow, 1 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - Chechen fighters today denied that Russian forces were conducting a large-scale offensive in the southeastern part of the republic or had managed to surround hundreds of the fighters in the area. A Chechen website quoted rebels in the region as saying there is some "sporadic" gunfire and "chaotic" shelling of the mountain area. Earlier, Russian news agencies quoted officials as saying that the offensive against the Chechens was "effective."

None of these claims could be independently confirmed. Meanwhile, Russian officials say efforts are being stepped up to find perpetrators of a successful assault that had killed one of Moscow's senior representatives in Chechnya.

Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said that "certain operational measures" had been taken against unspecified persons and that the investigation into the incident in which Sergei Zverev, deputy administrator for Chechnya, was killed two days ago in Grozny continues.