Russia

Russians struggle to take Grozny

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Federal forces together with some 500 Chechen volunteers under the command of former Grozny Mayor Beslan Gantemirov advanced into Grozny from several directions early on 25 December, but they encountered "ferocious" resistance from the city's Chechen defenders. Gantemirov, who had predicted on 25 December that the city would be under Russian control within a week, revised that estimate two days later. The head of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, Malik Saidullaev, said the battle for the capital could last for months. On 27 December, Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu and Chechen emissary Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov met in Ingushetia but failed to agree on terms for evacuating the remaining civilians stranded in Grozny. Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev estimates that there are 25,000-30,000 civilians in the city. LF
CHECHEN, GEORGIAN OFFICIALS SAY BORDER BLOCKED

Chechen and Georgian government representatives on 24 December confirmed Russian claims that it has established control over the Argun gorge, the location of one of the two main highways leading south out of Chechnya, Interfax reported. On 27 December, Interfax reported that Russian aircraft have begun dropping bombs containing an inflammable vapor that creates a vacuum after it explodes on sparsely populated districts of southern Chechnya. LF

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