Chechen defenders continued to launch counterattacks against Russian forces in the vicinity of Alleroi, Tsentoroi, and Alkhan-Yurt, southeast of Grozny, and near Urus Martan, to the west of the capital, inflicting heavy losses. Russian forces continued their aerial and artillery bombardment of both Grozny and Urus Martan. Speaking by telephone from Grozny, former Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov told Reuters on 30 November that Russian claims to have surrounded Grozny from the west, north, and east are untrue and that federal forces control only the northern approaches to the city. Udugov said that federal troops have lost 200 men in the previous two days alone. LF
COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL VISITS CHECHNYA'S 'LIBERATED' ZONE
Alvaro Gil-Robles, who on 1 January assumes the duties of the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, traveled to Chechnya's Nadterechnyi Raion on 30 November, together with senior Russian officials. Gil-Robles visited two villages in the district, which is controlled by Russian troops, and also inspected two camps under construction for returning civilians who fled to neighboring Ingushetia. He declined to comment on his impressions, Reuters reported. LF
RUSSIA'S CHIEF MUFTI DEFENDS CHECHEN COUNTERPART
Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, who heads the Council of Muftis of Russia, told senior members of the Muslim clergy at a meeting in Moscow on 30 November that he condemns Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's criticisms of Chechen Mufti Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, ITAR-TASS reported. Maskhadov has labeled Kadyrov a traitor, blamed him for precipitating the Russian invasion, and called for his arrest (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November 1999). Gainutdin appealed to Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, who also attended the meeting, to protect Kadyrov. LF
BEREZOVSKII SAYS CHECHEN LEADERSHIP READY TO DISCUSS PEACE PLAN
Media magnate Boris Berezovskii told Interfax in Kyiv on 30 November that he spoke by telephone last week with former Chechen Foreign Minister Udugov, who informed him that the Chechen leadership is prepared to discuss Berezovskii's seven-point plan for resolving the Chechen conflict. Under that plan, Chechnya remains a part of the Russian Federation, and its military formations must be disbanded. Field commanders who refuse to accept those terms must leave Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1999). LF
ARE VOLUNTEERS FOR CHECHNYA TRAINING IN KALMYKIA?
Salman Shatoev, an ethnic Chechen and former Soviet army colonel, told journalists in Almaty on 30 November that volunteers to fight on the Chechen side against the Russian forces in Chechnya are undergoing training in a string of camps in Kalmykia, an RFE/RL correspondent in the former Kazakh capital reported. Shatoev said that those volunteers come from Kazakhstan and other CIS states, but he did not specify their number. LF
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