Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 24

There was some doubt as to whether the sharp clashes with rebels coming from Georgia that Moscow claimed had taken place in Itum-Kale District had in fact occurred, at least in the way in which they had been described. When correspondent Said Bitsoev of Novye Izvestia telephoned the deputy pro-Moscow head of administration of Itum-Kale district, Salavdi Bakhaev, he learned that “the situation in the district center and in nine population centers is absolutely calm.” The same was also reported by the deputy head of administration of Shatoi District, also located in the Chechen highlands. Not only were official Russian reports concerning the harsh fighting suspect, Bitsoev intimated, but as well the reports appearing on the website of an extremist separatist group supporting Shamil Basaev, which claimed to have killed thirty-nine Russian “aggressors.” Virtual reality may have been dangerously squeezing out actual (Novye Izvestia, July 30).