Chechens Defy Call to Surrender
Pervomayskoye, Phil Reeves, The Independent (London, England)
Chechen rebels holding more than 100 hostages in a border village were given another night to "reconsider their position", after defying calls to give up yesterday.
As President Boris Yeltsin sent two of his top security officials to Dagestan in an effort to end the five-day confrontation between the Russian army and the rebels at the village of Pervomayskoye, a matter of yards from the border with Chechnya, the Interior Ministry announced that a brief breathing-space had been agreed by local officials in their talks with the Muslim fighters. However, rebel snipers fired on the Russian forces surrounding them, wounding up to four, according to Russian officials. They insisted that their troops did not fire back
General Mikhail Barsukov, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Interior Minister, Anatole Kulikov, took charge of the Russian attempts to negotiate after the Chechens failed to respond to a Kremlin ultimatum to hand over their captives and surrender by 10am yesterday.
The Chechen leader, Salman Raduyev, 28, ignored Russian threats that troops would be ordered to attack the village, where the rebels have been cornered since Wednesday.
As the deadline approached, the formidable array of forces surrounding the farming hamlet was strengthened still further with the arrival of about 300 Ministry of Interior special troops, accompanied by a group of snipers with high-powered rifles slung over their shoulders. But when it passed with no end to the deadlock, the Russians withdrew the men, generally scaled down their military activity and softened their tone, despite earlier comments making clear that they were no longer willing to strike a deal in which the rebels walked free.
Alexander Mikhailov, an FSB spokesman who earlier this week had called for the "annihilation of the bandits", struck a more conciliatory note here yesterday, saying that every effort ought to be made to resolve the crisis without any unnecessary loss of life.
The stand-off began six days ago as the Chechen fighters were retreating from north Dagestan, where they had taken over a hospital in Kizlyar and seized 2,000 hostages, in an effort to force the Russians to withdraw their troops from Chechnya.
They sought refuge in Pervomayskoye after being fired on by Russian helicopters as they crossed the Chechen border, an act which they saw as a breach of an agreement that they …
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Publication information: Article title: Chechens Defy Call to Surrender. Contributors: Pervomayskoye, Phil Reeves - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 15, 1996. Page number: 8. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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