The guerrilla war seems to have intensified. According to official data from Moscow, nine Russian soldiers were killed and sixty-six wounded last week. Chechen snipers are active in Grozny, in the city center as well as on the periphery, and Russian sappers have blown up houses thought to shelter them, failing in at least one instance to remove the inhabitants first. Chechen fighters have ambushed Interior Ministry forces and attacked Russian formations in several places along the Terek river, in areas said to be under Russian control. Russian forces have stepped up patrols by helicopter gunships.

President Putin met last week with families of eighty-four servicemen from Pskov killed in an ambush six months ago. Each family reportedly received 700,000 rubles ($25,000) in compensation for its loss. Cynics suggested the televised meeting was the Kremlin’s public-relations reaction to the perception of Putin as callous following the loss of the Kursk.