Heavy fighting is continuing in the Chechen capital, where, according to Radio Liberty’s correspondent in Djohar, the entire city center is being hit non-stop by Russian air and artillery bombardment and resembles a flaming cauldron. The most intense fighting is reportedly taking place near Minutka Square (itself in the city center), which was the axis of the January 1995 battle between the federal forces and the Chechen rebels–the most intense of the last 1994-96 war. The Russian forces today pretty much control the city—with the exception of its center (Russian agencies, January 23).
The current situation resembles that of January 1995. Then, as now, the fiercest resistance the federal forces encountered from Chechen fighters occurred in the center of the capital. Then, as now, the rebels deliberately allowed Russian armored columns to enter the city, and then opened fire on them from the ruins of apartment buildings. Russian General Mikhail Malofeev, who disappeared at the beginning of last week, evidently didn’t learn enough from the last war: According to the Russian government, his body was discovered in the center of the Chechen capital on January 23. The Chechen side denies that he was killed, claiming instead that he was taken prisoner (Russian agencies, January 23; Kavkaz.org, January 24).
…AND IN THE MOUNTAINS OF THE BREAKAWAY REPUBLIC.