Clashes between the Russian army and Chechen forces expanded across the republic June 1, with mounting death tolls on both sides, Interfax reported. Itar-Tass said that there were at least 50 Russian dead in one local hospital. Russian commanders said that the Chechens had suffered even greater casualties. Russian commander Lt. Gen. Gennady Troshev told Interfax that his forces now control almost half of Chechnya’s mountainous south, have driven Dudayev’s forces out of the lowlands, and are prepared to crush the “rebels” at Vedeno and Shatoi. But at the same time, Krasnaya zvezda reported June 1 that the Chechens now have much better weaponry including modern bazookas, submachine guns, tanks, and even Stinger missiles. And Moscow television reported that there are at least 4,000 fighters under Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev’s command. On the diplomatic front, Chechen officials said that they would not resume talks with Moscow until there was an effective cease-fire, or until the UN or OSCE conducted a review of the situation; they did say that they were maintaining contacts with the Russian government through Saint Petersburg mayor Anatoli Sobchak, Itar-Tass reported.
And again, there was no additional word on the fate of Fred Cuny, the American aid specialist who has been missing in Chechnya since April 9. Chechen negotiator Usman Imayev did tell Radio Liberty on June 1, however, that the Chechens were now certain that the body they had discovered earlier was not that of the missing American.
A New Russian Peace Plan?