Intense fighting took place throughoutChechnya over the weekend, Itar-Tass reported, with Russian forces bombing andshelling the same villages they had bombed and shelled last week. Chechendefenders blew up two train lines, derailing one train in the process. (Theseexplosions made nonsense of Moscow’s claim in Birzhevskie vedomosti (no. 20)that rail lines there had suffered “no losses” since reopening last month.) Russiancommanders acknowledged that the Chechens still had some tanks, and can stillattack in units as large as 250 men, indications of just how far this war is fromcoming to an end. In an effort to gain greater control, Moscow introduced stillmore border guards in an attempt to block the inflow of arms from Georgia andOssetia.
Vechernaya Moskva reported May 18 that 52 Jews from Chechnyahad been flown to Israel, while Ogonek (no. 19) said that the total number ofrefugees in the region had swollen from 80,000 before the invasion to 450,000now. Unfortunately, the magazine said, fewer than 10% of these people havereceived official refugee status and hence aid from the government.
On May 20, Itar-Tass reported that officials in Ingushetiya, a republicneighboring Chechnya, had said that the body which Chechens had found lastweek was not that of Fred Cuny, the American aid worker who has been missingin Chechnya since April 9. The Russian news agency said that the Ingush officialshad “reasons to believe” that Cuny is still alive, but they would not reveal theirreasons for fear of complicating the search.
Is Yeltsin For Peace In Chechnya?