The Russian Air Force carried out more than twenty attacks on targets in Chechnya yesterday and today. Russian military sources reported that positions held by Islamist militants were hit, along with depots in caves, makeshift oil refineries and bridges. According to Russia’s Federal Immigration Service, 100,000 refugees from the breakaway republic have crossed over into neighboring Ingushetia, and Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev warned that his republic was experiencing “a real shortage of food.” Aushev put the number of refugees at 67,000, while Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations estimates the number of refugees at 88,000 (Russian agencies, October 1).
A Chechen emissary in Tbilisi, Georgia, said today that Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov had authorized him to ask Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to mediate between Moscow and Djohar. Russia’s armed forces, however, appeared to be in no mood to negotiate with Maskhadov. Defense Ministry sources were quoted as saying that the armed forces general staff had information confirming that Maskhadov had named radical field commander Shamil Basaev as the commander of an “eastern front” in a Chechen counterattack against Russian ground forces, which reportedly crossed over into Chechnya yesterday (see the Monitor, September 30). A Defense Ministry source was quoted today as saying that Maskhadov’s naming of Basaev was proof that authorities in Djohar were “protecting criminals” (Russian agencies, October 1).
Meanwhile, Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed said yesterday that he was misquoted in an interview he gave to the French newspaper Le Figaro, which was published earlier this week. Lebed, who was quoted as saying that the current attack on Chechnya and the terrorist bombings in Moscow last month were probably a provocation staged by the government in order to cancel elections (see the Monitor, September 30), criticized Le Figaro’s translation of his remarks and said that he was quoted out of context (Russian agencies, September 30).
NATO MEMBERSHIP ACTION PLANS SUBMITTED.