Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 114

The Russian MVD and military have denied any involvement in, or foreknowledge of, the October 8 bombing of the village of Roshni-Chu, and the reported October 14 air strikes against Dargo and Beklgatoi. Most recently, the deputy commander of the Joint Federal Group of Forces, Viktor Vlasenkov, said that no combat aviation operations have taken place since December 1994; and further, "only helicopters are in the air" for humanitarian and transport purposes. (12) Another official has referred to air reconnaissance missions over Dudayev-held villages but nothing of a combat nature. (13)

Which raises the obvious question: who, then, is behind the deadly air attacks? Chechen militants have been known to exploit their fellow countrymen for propaganda purposes, but it is hardly likely that they are piloting bombers. Also, Chechen reports of war operations over the past two years have proven to be reliable when subject to outside verification. Roshni-Chu was no exception. Sandor Meszaros, chief of the OSCE mission in Chechnya, went to Roshni-Chu at the end of last week and expressed "shock" at what he found there. Meszaros was able to confirm that the village had suffered heavy casualties. In all, he said, 28 villagers were killed, approximately 60 were injured, and close to 100 houses were damaged or totally destroyed. (14)

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