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Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #010 [18 DEC 2000]

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  • Ralph Davis
    Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #010 [18 DEC 2000] [Open-source resources compiled by Ralph Davis for the recipient s personal use.] 1. The war is not
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2001
      Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #010 [18 DEC 2000]
       

      [Open-source resources compiled by Ralph Davis for the
      recipient's personal use.]

      1.   The war is not over in Chechnya: pro-Moscow civilian chief
      2.   Georgia Loses Control over Chechen-Populated Area
      3.   Georgian, Russian security chiefs to discuss joint measures to combat
      crime
      4.   Russian servicemen detained after firing on civilian vehicles in
      Chechnya
      5.   Russia says Georgia's moves against Chechen rebels inadequate
      6.   Top officials in Russia's Caucasus republics spend a day on the range
      7.   Georgian president admits participation of Georgian nationals in
      Chechnya war
      8.   Georgian president bans Russian troops from Chechen gorge
      9.   Russia's Dagestan bomb blast carnage: Suspects detained
      10. Bislan Gantamirov: Chechen Rebels Feel Freely In Grozny
      11. THE SPANISH EMBASSY DOES NOT SHOW SPECIAL OPTIMISM AS TO THE POSSIBLE
      FREEING OF SPANISH CITIZENS WHO WERE KIDNAPPED IN GEORGIA
      12. Brother of Infamous Chechen field commander killed
      13. Putin spokesman says eye-witnesses watched burial of Chechen warlord
      14. Berezovsky resumes role in Chechnya
      15. Russian troops in Chechnya get three state-of-the-art helicopters
      16. Russia said preparing attack against Chechens on Georgian territory if
      allowed

      ****************

      1.   The war is not over in Chechnya: pro-Moscow civilian chief
      Monday, December 18 8:44 PM SGT


      MOSCOW, Dec 18 (AFP) - Chechnya's top pro-Moscow official warned the Russian
      government Monday that the "war is not over" in the rebel province after
      rebels staged a daring raid on the mayor's office in the capital Grozny.

      "Moscow has no idea what is going on here," Akhmad Kadyrov told AFP in an
      interview.

      "Leaders need moral and financial support to achieve something but we have
      not received one ruble for reconstruction or compensation for the war and
      people are disillusioned," he added.

      Two Chechen policemen serving in the pro-Moscow force were killed Sunday,
      along with two rebel fighters, during a guerrilla attack on city hall in the
      war-ravaged capital, local law enforcement officials said.

      On Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky blamed the recent upsurge
      in rebel attacks on Kadyrov's lack of control in the republic.

      "Alas, he does not have the influence that we had hoped for," Yastrzhembsky
      said in comments broadcast on state-run RTR television.

      "The problem is that there is not one single man amongst the leaders of
      Chechen society that enjoys absolute or even relative support in the
      republic," he added.

      In response, Kadyrov told AFP that Moscow was searching for a scapegoat.

      Meanwhile, Grozny Mayor Bislan Gantamirov also criticised the federal
      authorities for not providing enough manpower to secure the city.

      "The administration may not want to admit it, but the rebels move around the
      capital very easily," he told RTR.

      "In Grozny, there are a few thousand soldiers but it seems like there are
      even more rebel fighters," he added.

      Gantamirov, whose pro-Moscow militia fought alongside Russian troops when
      they captured the city early this year, said that the mayor's office is
      attacked "two or three times per week."

      Moscow estimates that between 300 and 500 rebels operate throughout the
      capital, hiding in Grozny's ruins during the day and attacking federal
      positions at night.

      Ten people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Sunday
      attack which lasted some 50 minutes and ended when federal reinforcements
      arrived on the scene.

      In a separate incident, a Russian soldier was reported killed and two others
      wounded in a rebel grenade attack in Grozny, the ITAR-TASS news agency
      reported.

      The rebels managed to escape after the attack.

      More than 14 months after Russia launched its military intervention in
      breakaway Chechnya on October 1 last year, up to 2,000 rebels continue to
      harass federal troops on a daily basis, targetting Russian checkpoints,
      convoys and Chechens collaborating with Moscow.

      Attacks against civilians have also increased.

      Earlier this month, 21 villagers died after a powerful carbomb ripped
      through a square near the mosque in Alkhan-Yurt, south of the capital
      Grozny.

      A column of civilian vehicles was ambushed over the weekend outside
      Kadyrov's administrative capital Gudermes, leaving one person dead and two
      wounded, Interfax reported.

      Two Russian civilians -- a woman and her 52-year-old mother -- were also
      found murdered with signs of torture in Grozny last week.

      Meanwhile, the rise in rebel attacks, the serverity of the response of
      federal forces and the harsh Russian winter are continuing to scare away
      Chechens into neighbouring republics.

      Ingushetia officially registered 187,642 Chechen refugees Monday, 1,911 of
      whom had arrived over the past 24 hours, the Ingush interior ministry told
      ITAR-TASS.

      ***************
      2.   Georgia loses control over Chechen-populated area - Russian source
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax

      Moscow, 18 December: The Pankisi gorge remains under the full control of
      Chechen fighters and continues to be "a black hole" for the Georgian
      authorities, Russian power structure sources have said.

      "In spite of the (Georgian) Interior Ministry's and the (Georgian) State
      Security Ministry's 'large-scale anticriminal operation' aimed at regaining
      control over the Pankisi gorge where Chechen fighters have settled, the
      measures stated by them (the ministries) are so far being applied in a
      limited way," these sources said.

      Tbilisi gives comprehensive coverage of measures aimed at setting up block
      posts around the gorge and increasing the number of them, one of the sources
      told Interfax on Monday [18 December]. "However, between Akhmeta Regional
      centre and the gorge only two posts have been organized. One of them (was
      organized) right beyond the town's suburbs, and the second farther out, but
      eight kilometres from the gorge's border. Both posts consist of sandbags,
      bars implanted into the ground and small trenches. Besides interior forces
      soldiers, only six policemen and State Security Ministry representatives are
      on duty at each of them," the source said.

      "Only the main roads leading into the gorge are being protected, and the
      earth roads and paths are not being controlled by Georgian police," the
      sources said.

      "As a result, one can easily enter the gorge from some villages by the river
      Alazani. From the other side of the gorge, one can get into Khevsureti
      through the Sakorno and Andaki passes, and from there into Chechnya. That
      territory is not guarded by anyone, either," the sources said. "The Georgian
      authorities are afraid and are not planning to bring the necessary forces
      into the gorge itself. There are no Interior Ministry and State Security
      Ministry structures there," the sources said.

      Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 0919 gmt 18 Dec 00

      **************
      3.   Georgian, Russian security chiefs to discuss joint measures to combat
      crime
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report by Georgian news agency Kavkasia-Press

      Tbilisi, 18 December: Georgian Minister of State Security Vakhtang
      Kutateladze will leave for Moscow tomorrow to meet his Russian counterpart,
      Director of the Russian Federal Security Service Nikolay Patrushev.

      Kavkasia-Press was told at the Georgian Ministry of State Security that
      Kutateladze and Patrushev would discuss cooperation between the Georgian and
      Russian special services as well as coordination of action in fighting
      organized crime. The meeting will focus on the situation in the Pankisi
      gorge [near the Chechen border] where some 7,000 Chechen refugees have been
      living since the beginning of hostilities in Chechnya.

      Vakhtang Kutateladze's visit to Moscow will last for two days.

      Source: Kavkasia-Press news agency, Tbilisi, in Georgian 1215 gmt 18 Dec 00

      ****************
      4.   Russian servicemen detained after firing on civilian vehicles in
      Chechnya
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax

      Groznyy, 18 December: An armoured troop-carrier fired on a bus carrying
      passengers on the Kavkaz federal road in Chechnya, to the west of Gudermes
      near the turn to the village of Dzhalka, the press service for the Chechen
      administration told the press, quoting Maksim Kibizov, deputy prosecutor of
      the Gudermes region.

      The bus driver was wounded, Kibizov said. The prosecutor's office employees
      have already detained the servicemen who are suspected of having attacked
      the vehicle.

      According to Kibizov, a Nissan car came under fire from the same military
      column in the western suburbs of Gudermes. The driver, Magomed Chimkitayev,
      was mortally wounded in the heart and died at the scene.

      The five soldiers suspected of shooting at the Nissan have been detained,
      the press service for the Chechen administration reports, quoting the
      Gudermes prosecutor. The prosecutor's office for the Gudermes region has
      opened criminal cases in both incidents.

      Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1247 gmt 18 Dec 00

      *****************
      5.   Russia says Georgia's moves against Chechen rebels inadequate
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report in English by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS

      Moscow, 18 December: The measures announced by Georgian authorities against
      Chechen rebels who are controlling Georgia's Pankisi Gorge are limited,
      Russian military sources told ITAR-TASS on Monday [18 December].

      They said Georgia had proclaimed a plan of setting up and expanding a
      network of check posts around the gorge, but only two have been installed so
      far in an area between the town of Akhmeta and the Pankisi Gorge. One is on
      the town's outskirts and the other is located eight kilometres from the
      gorge.

      "Both posts are several bags of sand, bars dug into the ground and small
      trenches. Apart from soldiers of interior troops, a mere six representatives
      of police and of the Georgian National Security Ministry are on duty at the
      posts," the military said.

      They said Georgian security services were controlling only major roads to
      the gorge, while numerous paths remained easily accessible from Chechnya.
      The Russian military said Georgian authorities did not plan sending an
      adequate force to the Pankisi Gorge which remains in full control of Chechen
      rebels.

      Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English 1237 gmt 18 Dec 00

      *****************
      6.   Top officials in Russia's Caucasus republics spend a day on the range
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      [Presenter] The heads of the republics in the North Caucasus have undergone
      military training for the first time in nine years, in the village of
      Prokhladnoye in Rostov Region. The command of the North Caucasus Military
      District decided to show them the latest weapons and put them through the
      standard military refresher course. A report from Rostov Region.

      [Correspondent] This is probably the only time that the acting commanding
      officer of the North Caucasus Military District, Vladimir Bulgakov, reports
      to the recruits instead of giving them orders. In front of him, sorted into
      two groups, are the heads of administration of Dagestan, Ingushetia,
      Kabarda-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, North Ossetia and the Chechen
      Republic.

      [Gadzhigomed Geti Akhmadov, first deputy chairman of the Republic of
      Dagestan State Council - captioned] I did my service in the army in 1974.
      This is the first time in the 26 years since then that I've been to
      refresher training.

      [Correspondent] What rank do you hold?

      [Akhmadov] Captain. At least for the moment [laughs].

      [Correspondent] The head of the provisional administration in Chechnya,
      Akhmad Kadyrov, arrived in the uniform of a Russian army colonel. For his
      live-firing practice, he chose a sniper's rifle with a silencer.

      [Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the provisional administration in Chechnya -
      captioned] This is useful. I know I'm not much of a marksman, but I did once
      hit the bullseye with a pistol [laughs].

      [Correspondent] During their training, the heads of administration were
      shown home-made weapons used by rebels in their guerrilla war against the
      Russian forces in the North Caucasus... The course ended in the traditional
      way, with decorations for all. The military congratulated the heads of
      administration on their routine promotions. But the camouflage kit with the
      brand new badges of rank will probably gather dust in cupboards for at least
      a year, until the next refresher course.

      Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 18 Dec 00

      ******************
      7.   Georgian president admits participation of Georgian nationals in
      Chechnya
      war
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has admitted that a group of the
      paramilitary who had fought in Chechnya is known to be staying in the
      Pankisi gorge in the northeastern part of Georgia. He said in his regular
      weekly interview with Georgian radio that this group consisted of ethnic
      Chechen residents of Georgia and they would be dealt with in an appropriate
      way. Shevardnadze described as unfair the Russian mass media placing such
      emphasis on the participation of the Georgian nationals in combat in
      Chechnya and recalled the role the Russian nationals played in the
      Abkhaz-Georgian armed conflict.

      Commenting on the recent abduction of two UN observers in the Kodori gorge
      of Abkhazia and two Spanish and several local and Russian businessmen in the
      Pankisi gorge, where ethnic Chechen residents of Georgia live, he thanked
      all the officials who contributed to the safe release of the UN officials
      and said relevant measures were being taken to settle the incidents in the
      Pankisi gorge.

      Eduard Shevardnadze praised the Georgian parliament for passing the law on
      Georgia's 2001 budget. He said the budget met IMF requirements and therefore
      the International Monetary Fund would certainly resolve to allocate a new
      tranche of financial aid to Georgia. Shevardnadze said that despite a severe
      energy crisis, mainly caused by the recent drought, the Georgian economy was
      showing positive signs. He praised the success achieved in the country's
      banking system despite major problems in the banking systems of the
      neighbouring countries.

      Commenting on his official meetings in the past week, Shevardnadze placed
      emphasis on a five-year cooperation programme signed between UNISEF and
      Georgia. He also singled out his meeting with the management of the Glencor
      oil company which was said to be ready to make substantial investments into
      the development of Georgia's oil fields. He said the prospects for the
      construction of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline were discussed at his recent
      meeting with senior BP officials and reassured the population of Georgia
      that its economic, ecoligical and social interests would undoubtedly be
      taken into consideration during the work.

      Shevardnadze said the authorities would do their best to help the population
      to mark the New Year celebrations in a proper way, including getting
      foodstuffs for the new year celebrations at affordable prices.

      Shevardnadze described the process of the withdrawal of Russian military
      bases from Georgia as "controllable" and said he was satisfied with Russia's
      stand in this respect.

      The Georgian president commented on problems currently facing the
      parliamentary majority and the ruling party in particular. He called on the
      party to take more care of the current interests of the population and give
      up "intraparty tiffs". He said a common language should be found with all
      political forces in parliament, including those with a different political
      views.

      In his comments on the election of George W. Bush as US president,
      Shevardnadze spoke about close economic and political relations between this
      "superpower" and Georgia and expressed his confidence that with the election
      of the new president and with the appointment of "highly competent" people
      in his team, these relations would further develop.

      Source: Georgian Radio, Tbilisi, in Georgian 0600 gmt 18 Dec 00

      ****************
      8.   Georgian president bans Russian troops from Chechen gorge
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      [Presenter] The president of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, made a number of
      announcements today about the situation in the Pankisi gorge. He said he
      would not allow Georgia to be dragged into another war.

      [Correspondent] The Georgian president said today that he would not allow
      Russian troops involved in the Chechnya campaign to cross his republic. For
      the first time, he unambiguously ruled out joint operations with Russian
      forces.

      [Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, captioned] I cannot allow Russian
      troops to carry out punitive operations inside Georgia. I cannot allow the
      Russian armed forces to cross Georgian territory, because that would lead to
      serious conflict and bloodshed.

      [Correspondent] Georgia says it will sort out the situation in the Pankisi
      gorge by itself and will not be dragged into another war. In addition to
      Kists, or ethnic Chechens, the gorge has become home to about 7,000 refugees
      since the fighting started in Chechnya. Russia claims that new centres of
      Chechen separatism are being set up there. Georgia, on the other hand, says
      that reports of hundreds and thousands of rebels in the gorge are greatly
      exaggerated...

      Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 18 Dec 00

      *****************
      9.   Russia's Dagestan bomb blast carnage: Suspects detained
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report in English by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS

      Makhachkala, 18 December: Security services have detained suspects in the
      1996 bomb attack on an apartment block in Kaspiysk, a town in Russia's
      Republic of Dagestan, the former chief of the Dagestan branch of the Federal
      Security Service (FSS), Vladimir Semenov, told reporters on Monday.

      The Russian president has recently made Semenov first deputy chief of the
      Moscow regional FSS branch.

      The blast, which caused the apartment block to collapse, killed 69 people,
      mostly border guard officers and their families.

      Semenov did not name the suspects and said that investigators were still
      pursuing several theories for the terrorist act, including an order from
      Chechen warlords and revenge by the local "fish and caviar mafia", with
      which the border guard service had come into conflict.

      He said the criminal case on the Kaspiysk blast had good prospects despite
      the fact that the investigation had proven protracted.

      Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English 1143 gmt 18 Dec 00

      ******************
      10. Bislan Gantamirov: Chechen Rebels Feel Freely In Grozny
      Lenta.RU (Updated 18.12.2000 at 18:43:28)

      Grozny mayor Bislan Gantamirov believes that Chechen rebels have a relative
      freedom of action in the Chechen capital, Interfax news agency reported.
      "Grozny is full of rebels. Few Interior Ministry and Special Forces units
      are hunting them, Gantamirov stated to RTR television, commenting on a
      rebels attack on the Grozny city administration building.

      "Rebels feel freely in Grozny despite the fact that there were some dozens
      thousands of military", Gantamirov said. He noted that by sight it seemed
      there were more rebels than military.

      According to Grozny mayor, there were no contradictions between him and
      Chechen administration head Akhmad Kadyrov.

      Two other participants of the television debate Kadyrov's representative
      Shamil Beno and Chief of the Chechen State Council Malik Saydullayev
      proposed to create in the republic "a strong vertical line of just power".
      Saydullayev stated that he believed it was necessary to introduce a direct
      presidential government.

      ****************
      11. THE SPANISH EMBASSY DOES NOT SHOW SPECIAL OPTIMISM AS TO THE POSSIBLE
      FREEING OF SPANISH CITIZENS WHO WERE KIDNAPPED IN GEORGIA
      RIA Novosti (18 December 2000)

      The Spanish Embassy in Moscow does not show "special optimism" as to the
      possible freeing of the Spanish citizens who were kidnapped in Georgia. The
      information from official Tbilisi does not give any reason for this,
      reported the Spanish Consulate General in the Russian capital.

      As was pointed out by the Spanish diplomat, at the present time Spanish
      Consul Joaquin Duran is in Tbilisi. He maintains contacts with the Georgian
      Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Interior. The Spanish consul has been
      staying in Tbilisi for fifteen days now, but up to this time he could not
      receive any concrete information from the Georgian official authorities. For
      this reason, Madrid regards the situation with the kidnapped Spanish
      citizens as "alarming." According to the diplomat, the Spanish side has
      taken all possible measures, including the attraction of international
      organisations to freeing the Spanish citizens, but so far this has given no
      results. Though eighteen days have passed since the kidnapping of the
      Spanish citizens, the kidnappers did not make any effort to contact either
      Spanish or Georgian authorities and did not put forth any terms for their
      release.

      At the same time Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, speaking in
      Tbilisi, said that the hostages, according to the law enforcers' data, are
      kept in the Pankisi gorge and that "the situation with their freeing is not
      hopeless." The staff-members of the Spanish-Georgian Geomadera timber and
      granite import-export firm, Francisco Rodriguez and Antonio Tremille, were
      kidnapped on November 30 near the Tbilisi airport. The investigation of the
      case is being conducted by the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of State
      Security and the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia.

      *****************
      12. Brother of Infamous Chechen field commander killed
      RosBusinessConsulting (18 December 2000)

      Shirvani Basayev, the brother of infamous Chechen rebel leader Shamil
      Basayev, was killed in Chechnya during a special military operation, as
      sources from the staff of presidantial assistant Sergey Jastrzembski
      reported today. Basayev died on last weekend of wounds. He was injured in
      the mountains, on the border of the Nozhay-Yurt and Vedeno regions of
      Chechnya and was buried in the Vedeno region.

      Shirvani Basayev participated in the terrorist attack on Budyonovsk in 1995.
      During the first Chechen campaign he was the prefect of the Vedeno region
      and actively fought against federal forces. Later he became a Minister in
      the Maskhadov’s government and was responsibel for the Chechen oil industry.

      In addition, federal forces managed to eliminate the head of staff of
      Chechen field commander Ruslan Tsagoroyev. No details on this event are
      known yet.

      Infamous Chechen Terrorist Says He Will Avenge For His Brother

      Infamous Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev stated that he avenge for
      his brother Shivani Basayev, who was killed by federal forces, the RTR
      television channel reported, citing informed sources. This statement was yet
      another confirmation of the Shirvani's death, who was reportedly eliminated
      as a result of a special military operation, conducted by FSB servicemen in
      Chechnya.

      ******************
      13. Putin spokesman says eye-witnesses watched burial of Chechen warlord
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report by Russian Public TV on 18 December

      [Presenter Yekaterina Andreyeva] We have live on the programme "Vremya" the
      Russian president's aide, Sergey Yastrzhembskiy. Hallo. You confirmed today
      the reports about the death of Basayev Jr. But what is your evidence that he
      is dead?

      [Yastrzhembskiy] The office of the president's aide is not alone in
      confirming the reports. Other official structures have also stated that
      Shirvani Basayev perished and was buried in Vedenskiy District, that is, in
      Chechnya's mountainous areas. Special efforts were made to check and
      re-check these reports, and the information has been confirmed in the end
      from various sources. We know people who were present at the ceremony of the
      burial of Basayev's body.

      [Andreyeva] Are these people agents of the federal forces?

      [Yastrzhembskiy] Why do you jump to the conclusion that they are necessarily
      agents? They are ordinary civilians.

      [Andreyeva] So, how did all this happen? What were the circumstances of his
      death and what details of the special operation can you tell our viewers.

      [Yastrzhembskiy] Katya, I am not a military man. I am a media man and as
      such I have to rely on the logic of the military. So, we must act in unison
      with them. In certain situations, details may spoil the broth. Therefore,
      perhaps, it is not yet the time for me to tell you any more information
      about various operations. I can only add that the record of the federal
      forces includes not just Shirvani Basayev but also another important person
      from among Chechen field commanders, chief of staff Tsigarayev.

      [Andreyeva] Sergey Vladimirovich, you have said you are not a military man
      but you are certainly a well-informed person. And as a well-informed person,
      have you got any information as to whether it is the task of the federal
      forces to target field commanders or rebel leaders or do they simply get
      into situations which lead to their death.

      [Yastrzhembskiy] It is a war, after all. Like in any war, situations vary.
      Naturally, in some situations, rebel field commanders find themselves in
      extraordinary circumstances. They run up against block posts and ambushes.
      You will recall the way [separatist leader Aslan] Maskhadov has recently
      been wounded. He was wounded unexpectedly. But federal units also conduct
      special planned operations after a prolonged study and analysis of the
      intelligence they collect. Then their surprise actions lead to the
      achievement of tasks they set themselves. We can now boldly say that the
      main task of the federal units is the neutralization of all the key rebel
      commanders.

      [Andreyeva] Will the federal forces change their tactics during the winter
      time, with the disappearance of the foliage?

      [Yastrzhembskiy] Naturally, every season of the year makes its own
      amendments to the tactics of the federal forces. It is one thing to conduct
      combat actions and look for rebel leaders in summer conditions and it is
      another matter to do the same during the winter time, when they have no
      protection of the green forest. It is obvious that for now, rebels will have
      to look for cover in villages rather than in the woods. That is why the
      federal forces are transferring the centre of their activity to population
      centres.

      [Andreyeva] Thank you.

      Source: Russian Public TV, Moscow, in Russian 1800 gmt 18 Dec 00

      ******************
      14. Berezovsky resumes role in Chechnya
      By Andrew Jack in Moscow
      Published: December 18 2000 18:53GMT | Last Updated: December 18 2000
      20:37GMT

      Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian business "oligarch" under attack by the
      Kremlin, has re-established contact with Chechen rebel leaders in an effort
      to boost his role as a potential intermediary to resolve the conflict.

      In an interview with the FT, Mr Berezovsky said he had begun talking to
      Chechens again last month after previously suspending contact at the request
      of President Vladimir Putin. An average of 40-50 Russian soldiers have been
      killed every month since the formal end of the military assault on the
      Chechens.

      Mr Berezovsky played an important and controversial role as an intermediary
      for Chechnya under the administration of former President Boris Yeltsin,
      including negotiating the release of Russian and foreign hostages.

      He argued that Russia should have ceased its military campaign in late 1999
      when troops reached the Terek River which divides Chechnya. At that point,
      he said, Russians believed psychologically they had won and Chechens that
      they had lost. Continuing southwards simply alienated ever more Chechens
      from the Russians.

      Mr Berezovsky believed that Aslan Maskhadov, the rebel leader and Chechen
      president, remained the most logical interlocutor, and that talks were also
      necessary between the government and other fighters including Shamil
      Basayev. "There is no point talking to Chechens loyal to the Russian
      regime," he said.

      Previously politically influential, Mr Berezovsky has become an increasingly
      vocal critic of Mr Putin's administration and claims a corruption
      investigation against him is purely political.

      Mr Berezovsky said that he had been involved in the management of funds of
      Aeroflot, the national airline, and Logovaz, a car dealership linked to the
      Avtovaz group, and said profits generated had been used to fund the
      pro-Kremlin Unity party. He added: "No person active over the last 10 years
      respected the law."

      However, the attacks against him and his management teams reflected the fact
      that he had helped clear large numbers of KGB and Communist party officials
      out of the companies. He said they had been transferring money abroad.

      ****************
      15. Russian troops in Chechnya get three state-of-the-art helicopters
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS

      Khankala, 18 December, ITAR-TASS correspondent Sergey Gulyayev: The joint
      group of forces in Chechnya has received three real state-of-the-art
      helicopters. Two Black Shark and one Alligator last-generation assault
      helicopters, which can fly in any conditions, have been brought to the
      Chechen republic.

      The command of the federal troops says that Russian President Vladimir
      Putin's recommendations on supplying the army with modern weapons and
      hardware are thereby being implemented. Until now the K-50 and K-52
      helicopters, known as Black Shark and Alligator, have been only displayed at
      air shows.

      Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1645 gmt 18 Dec 00

      ******************
      16. Russia said preparing attack against Chechens on Georgian territory if
      allowed
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 18, 2000

      Text of report by Georgian radio on 18 December

      [Presenter] Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze for the first time today
      admitted that there are Chechen combatants in the Pankisi gorge. According
      to the Russian press, if the Georgian side allows the Russian leadership to
      carry out combat actions to destroy Chechen militants in the Pankisi gorge,
      Russia will cancel a visa regime with Georgia. On to our special
      correspondent in Moscow, Rusudan Nikuradze.

      [Nikuradze] The fate of some 3,000 Chechen militants, currently stationed in
      the Pankisi gorge, has been decided - the Russian federal leadership is
      planning to exact a decisive attack before spring, the Russian presidential
      plenipotentiary envoy to the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev,
      told journalists in Moscow today [18 December].

      According to him, Russia is starting to hand the monitoring of the border as
      well as modern equipment and arms to the Georgian side. According to Russian
      sources, Putin is indeed planning to eradicate [Chechen] militants in
      spring. This operation will be carried out on Georgian territory. The
      Russian press asserts that if the Georgian leadership does not prevent
      Russia in this, a visa regime will be cancelled. The Russian and Georgian
      military have not made this publicly known yet. The heads of the Georgian
      and Russian border departments, Chkheidze and Totskiy respectively, agreed
      on coordinating actions two weeks ago. Talks on the technical side started
      on 15th December. In particular, the sides are discussing the type and
      quantity of equipment to be sent in the next few days.

      According to the Russian press, at the initial stage, Georgian border troops
      will be handed reconnaissance equipment and fire weapons. However, Russia
      has not yet decided when the planned assistance will be carried out or what
      else Russia will offer Georgia. So far, the official Russian military bodies
      rule out a possibility of putting military contingent in Georgia without the
      consent of official Tbilisi.

      Totskiy's plan is not to supply Georgian border troops with ample equipment
      and neither is this in Russia's interest. On the one hand, resources to be
      handed to the Georgian side are dispatched from the warehouses of this
      [border] service. On the other hand, Russia is creating safety guarantees of
      her southern border, thus, equipping this section of the border with modern
      equipment is in Russia's interest after all, as is monitoring Chechen,
      Daghestan and Ingush sections of the border.

      Today, Russian newspapers assert that Georgia is giving Russia a hope that
      its border forces are armed with the best equipment and weapons but it would
      not refuse assistance. Although Georgia has already sent additional forces
      to the Asa gorge to open additional reconnaissance checkpoints, Russia still
      treats Georgia with distrust, this is a view held by the Russian press
      today.

      Source: Georgian Radio, Tbilisi, in Georgian 1800 gmt 18 Dec 00
       
      ****************
      [END]


      [DISCLAIMER: The selection of articles posted in this e-newsletter does not
      necessary reflect the views nor endorsement of the compiler. They are
      submitted in the interest of public discourse. Please submit all
      inquiries/questions to Ralph Davis at
      davis004@...]
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