Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 135

Even before the expiry of the Russian command’s ultimatum to the Chechen resistance. (see Monitor, July 9) Russian aviation and artillery yesterday attacked Gekhi village in western Chechnya, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding scores of others, according to the pro-Moscow district administration. Russian forces reported losing at least 6 killed early in the operation. Russian aviation also bombed yesterday several villages in southeastern Chechnya while OSCE mission chief Tim Guldimann was in the area.

Also yesterday the Russian command reinstated a 9 PM to 5 AM Chechnya-wide curfew, closed Grozny airport, and forbade motor traffic into and from Grozny. The measures in Grozny appear aimed at least in part at squashing media coverage of military operations. The command announced that its troops will take all necessary measures to enforce the curfew throughout Chechnya. This amounts to an open repudiation of the armistice agreement’s already-violated stipulations that the blockade of Chechen towns and villages be lifted by July 7. It also seems to foreordain clashes with local Chechen detachments.

The Russian government’s commission for Chechnya settlement, chaired by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, issued a statement accusing the Chechen side of violating the armistice and threatening further military actions. Yesterday evening’s Izvestiya cited indications that last week’s Security Council session chaired by President Boris Yeltsin had authorized the military to revert to using force. Among Russia’s political forces, only Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s party endorsed the resumption of military operations. (Russian agencies, July 9)

Military Corruption Scandal… Continued.