Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 21

Two Russian border guards were killed and seven wounded by unidentified attackers in Ingushetia January 27. In Chechnya itself, six Russian soldiers were officially reported killed and 14 wounded January 27 and 28. Meanwhile, the Chechen command is continuing to negotiate separately with Dagestani and Russian emissaries regarding the exchange of 17 OMON officers captured in Pervomaiskoye and 29 Russian electricity workers taken hostage in Grozny. The hostages are being offered in exchange for Chechen fighters in Russian captivity and civilian Chechen inmates of Russian filtration camps. Negotiations are likely to accelerate in the wake of burial ceremonies January 27 for 26 Chechen fighters killed in Pervomaiskoye. The fighters, whose bodies were returned by Russian authorities through Dagestani intermediaries, were buried in the Tsotsin-Yurt village cemetery, considered a holy place because it holds the bodies of 400 Chechens killed fighting Russian forces in 1919. Chechen forces’ chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov and other Chechen commanders yesterday rebuffed political overtures from the Moscow-installed Chechen government of Doku Zavgayev. Reaffirming ousted President Dzhokhar Dudayev’s assertion that the war pits the Chechen population against the Russian military, the commanders said they would negotiate only with Russian authorities.

In Moscow, hostages who had escaped from Pervomaiskoye spoke on television. "The Russian government betrayed us and threw us into this slaughter. They wanted to punish the [Chechen] fighters at the cost of our lives. We ended up being the hostages of federal forces," said one Dagestani. (9)

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