The marathon pro-independence rally in central Grozny ended the evening of February 10, its seventh consecutive day, under threat of an imminent OMON assault. Russian troops had held the crowd and its tent city under siege for the last two days of the demonstration, during which 12 protesters were officially reported killed and up to 30 wounded in shooting incidents and explosions. The authorities blamed "unidentified" perpetrators and pro-Dudayev militants for allegedly firing on their own supporters deliberately to "provoke" violence. OMON and Russian army troops finally managed to fully isolate Grozny’s central square and prevent the large crowds of demonstrators from reassembling, as they had each morning, in front of Dzhokhar’s Dudayev’s former presidential building.
The approximately 1,000 remaining demonstrators agreed to disperse after representatives of Russian and local collaborationist authorities promised them immunity from prosecution and to release all demonstrators arrested since the beginning of the rally. More than 10,000 residents of Grozny and nearby villages had attended the rally each day, slipping through army and police cordons. The authorities accused Dudayev of having masterminded the marathon rally, thus implicitly acknowledging his continuing popularity. Pro-independence and pro-Dudayev slogans and Chechen national flags reappeared on many apartment buildings in central Grozny yesterday. (3)
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