Unknown gunmen attacked a Russian military post near the Khankala airport on the outskirts of Grozny November 20. Three servicemen were killed and two others were wounded. (ORT, November 20) The same day, two Russian servicemen were taken hostage. The Chechen field commander in charge of this operation has demanded the release of three of his unit’s fighters, arrested over a month ago at a Russian checkpoint. (NTV, November 20)
It may be no coincidence that these events occurred on the eve of Russian premier Viktor Chernomyrdin’s proposed visit to Chechnya to meet with Chechen premier Aslan Maskhadov. During the visit, the status of the 101st brigade of Russia’s Interior Ministry troops and the 205th brigade of Defense Ministry troops will be discussed. (ORT, November 20) Moscow continues to insist that these units must remain in Chechnya permanently. (RTR, November 16) The Chechens, however, continue to demand the complete withdrawal of all Russian military units, and have stressed that the success of the negotiations between the two prime ministers will depend on Russian compliance. It seems possible, therefore, that in attacking these Russian posts Chechen resistance fighters are trying to pressure Moscow to agree to a complete withdrawal. This does not necessarily mean the acts were committed on the order of the resistance leaders — they may have come at the initiative of rogue field commanders.
Yeltsin Shown on Russian TV.