Russian aviation yesterday carried out a powerful bomb-rocket attack on Dachnoe, a village on the outskirts of Djohar [Grozny], the Chechen capital. Russian intelligence had reported that a Chechen unit based there was preparing such an attack. While official sources denied reports that a battle took place there yesterday, a Radio Liberty correspondent quoted local residents as saying they heard rounds from mortars and rocket propelled grenades being fired. A newspaper noted with irony that a heavy airstrike was launched after military intelligence discovered some fifty rebel fighters in the suburbs of the capital, but that the official line was “there was no military confrontation whatsoever” at Dachnoe (Radio Liberty, July 27; Nezavisimaya gazeta, July 28).
Meanwhile, the first anniversary of the start of the latest war in Chechnya is approaching, and no end to the conflict is in sight. According the official Russian military statistics, more than 10,000 servicemen have been killed or wounded since the start of the conflict. The rebels retain the capability to create problems for the federal forces, but the Russian military command never tires of repeating that the rebels are incapable now of carrying out large-scale operations. The approach of August, however, has put the Russian military on its guard. The month is filled with significant anniversaries: last August saw the Chechen rebel-led attack into neighboring Dagestan; in August 1996, during the previous war, the rebels seized the Chechen capital, effectively handing Moscow a defeat. Thus General Valery Manilov, the first deputy head of the Russian armed forces general staff, said that he does not rule out the possibility that in August the rebels might carry out a series of terrorist attacks, but added that the federal forces were taken steps to prevent this possibility. For his part, General Valery Baranov, deputy commander of the Russian forces in Chechnya, said he was confidant the rebels will not be able to repeat the events of August 1996. However the very fact that the generals feel it necessary to deny in advance that that the August 1996 scenario cannot be repeated suggests that they in fact are worried that it can (Nezavisimaya gazeta, July 28).
SHEVARDNADZE SEEKING ACCOMMODATION WITH ABKHAZIA.