Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 212

Two Russian servicemen were wounded over the weekend during battles with Chechen rebel units under the command of Shamil Basaev and Khattab in eastern Chechnya. According to an official in the office of Sergei Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin’s point man on Chechnya, fifteen rebel fighters were killed during the fighting. All were foreign mercenaries. The Chechen side claims that at least thirty Russian servicemen were killed and dozens wounded at the end of last week during battles along the border between the Vedeno and Nozhai-Yurt regions of the breakaway republic. Meanwhile, the Russian military launched artillery and air strikes over the weekend on suspected rebel positions in the mountains of southwest Chechnya, near its border with Ingushetia. The outskirts of the village of Nizhny Kurchala were subjected to massive bombardment. Russian forces defused two explosive devices, one in the village of Bachi-Yurt and another at the railway station in Gudermes. Weapons caches were discovered in the villages of Martan-Chu and Tangi (Radio Liberty, November 12).

On November 10, the State Duma commission set up to help normalize the socio-political and socio-economic situation in Chechnya and ensure the observation of human rights there held a public hearing, over which State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev presided. Among those who attended the hearing were Vladimir Ustinov, Russia’s prosecutor general, and Vyacheslav Lebedev, head of the Supreme Court. The deputy heads of all the other executive bodies involved in resolving the Chechen conflict also attended the hearing. Dmitri Rogozin, chairman of the Duma’s international affairs committee, gave the most compelling account of the Russian military’s “successes” in the Chechen campaign, comparing the war to the battle between Ivan Tsarevich, the hero of Russian folklore, and the immortal dragon, whose limbs grew back each time they were chopped off. Rogozin noted that the Russian military continues to put the number of rebels in Chechnya at 2,000-2,500 rebels, even though they have seemingly “been killed twenty times” already. Rogozin also said that Moscow had done nothing to deal with the economic, social and psychological consequences of the war, which gives the rebels a powerful social base and thus the means to replenish their ranks. Rogozin said that going to sessions of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg were a punishment, given that the Chechnya has tarnished the reputation of the Russian state and its president (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 11).