Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 136

Russian aviation and artillery yesterday attacked Makhety village in southwestern Chechnya, presumed site of the political leader of Chechen resistance, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. The Russian command initially announced that its troops had been ordered to arrest Yandarbiev, then said that the purpose was to deliver "pinpoint strikes" on Yandarbiev’s headquarters. The village administrative chief announced that the bombardment killed at least 20 civilians. In western Chechnya, Russian forces shelled Gekhi for the second consecutive day. The commander of Russian forces, Lt. General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov stated on Grozny television that his forces will continue identity checks in Chechen villages and, if resisted, will use aviation and artillery strikes against the villages. The OSCE’s Chechnya mission issued a statement urgently calling for a halt to military operations and resumption of negotiations.

In Moscow, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin who also chairs the government’s special commission for Chechnya settlement blamed the resumption of hostilities on the "impudence of the {Chechen} fighters and their leaders" and reassured media correspondents that the situation is "under control." His special commission on Chechnya will not discuss the situation until its scheduled meeting next week, Chernomyrdin said. President Boris Yeltsin’s Security Council Secretary and national security adviser, Aleksandr Lebed stated through his spokesman that Yandarbiev and his "bandit detachments" had provoked the attacks. Chernomyrdin and Lebed claimed without elaborating that Yeltsin’s "peaceful settlement plan" for Chechnya is on track. (Russian and Western agencies, NTV, July 10) Yeltsin himself, in a televised address yesterday thanking the people of Russia for reelecting him president, never mentioned Chechnya. As predicted in this space, the Kremlin’s willingness to negotiate a political settlement in Chechnya did not outlast Yeltsin’s reelection.

Yeltsin Promises Improvement.