Russian army faltering in test of professionalism and morale; see A22Russian troops continued to bomb the capital of the rebellious Chechnya republic Saturday as President Boris N. Yeltsin struggled to explain his handling of the conflict.

"The president is studying the situation around Chechnya in detail as well as the reaction by the public, by parliamentary deputies and by the news media," his office said in a statement.Yeltsin, who has been out of sight recovering from what officials say was minor nose surgery, had been expected to deliver a nationwide address Saturday spelling out his plans for using political means to restore Russian rule in Chechnya.

Instead, his office announced that he would convene a session of the Russian Security Council on Monday to review policy in Chechnya, and that he might address the public after that meeting.

The government also said it was sending reinforcements to the front and warned that its forces could storm the capital, Grozny, any day.

Nikolai D. Yegorov, the deputy prime minister in charge of the operation, warned that if the Chechens do not disarm in the next few days, Russia would "take military steps to bring Grozny under the control of the Russian Federation." Chechnya declared its independence in 1991.

Yeltsin's popularity has plummeted since he tried to restore Russian control over Chechnya two weeks ago with a military operation that has been both brutal and bungled. The country has watched in amazement as soldiers and even generals have publicly refused to follow orders.

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Col. Gen. Eduard A. Vorabyov, deputy commander of Russia's land forces, confirmed Saturday that he had resigned his command after the defense minister, Gen. Pavel S. Grachev, asked him to lead the operation in Chechnya.

The newspaper Izvestia reported that at the Russian command post in Mozdok, in the presence about 50 officers, Vorabyov told Grachev that he could not accept the assignment. Grachev suggested that he resign, and he did.

Yeltsin's handling has also been questioned outside Russia as the civilian death toll mounts.

After repeatedly declining to comment on what it termed an "internal Russian matter," the U.S. State Department has voiced concern about civilian deaths and human rights violations.

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