publicly called for a resumption of military strikes against locations in Chechnya. Kulikov wants to attack armed detachments suspected of conducting raids on towns in neighboring Dagestan. "These bandits don’t understand anything else," said the hard-line minister, who opposed the 1996 agreement that ended the war in Chechnya. "You’ve got to destroy them."

Kulikov’s outburst provoked quick reactions from around the political spectrum, showing how neuralgic an issue Chechnya remains. The government’s press spokesman said Kulikov views are "personal" and do not represent the government’s position, "much less that of the president." The careful Prime Minister