clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

CHECHEN ATTACKS ON RUSSIAN TROOPS EASE

Attacks on Russian troops in Chechnya decreased Saturday, nearly a week after a key agreement on military disengagement was signed.

An expected swap of prisoners, however, did not take place, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. Chechen rebel leaders said the exchange might be made in the next few days.Russian authorities have said the exchange is a precondition for continuing negotiations.

Some militants have continued to fight since rebel commander As-lan Maskhadov ordered a cease-fire effective at midnight Tuesday, but Chechnya was quieter Saturday than it has been in days, reports said.

Russian positions in the devastated capital, Grozny, came under fire only twice overnight Friday, compared with a dozen or more attacks on previous nights, ITAR-Tass said. In Chechnya as a whole, Chechen fighters attacked Russian troops just five times, the Russian military reported.

Russian Lt. Gen. Anatoly Romanov told ITAR-Tass that the Chech-ens had promised Friday to release three or five Russian prisoners and had not done so. He said Russia was prepared to release 30 Chechens in exchange.

"It is an all-for-all scheme of exchange . . . and therefore it is necessary for us to receive a full list of all missing Russian soldiers and officers," Romanov said.

Russia says 250 of its servicemen are missing in Chechnya.

Maskhadov told the agency the Chechen side was trying to locate Russian prisoners of war, and a swap could take place in three or four days.

The military pact - which also calls for the gradual withdrawal of Russian troops and the disarmament of Chechen fighters - was signed last Sunday by negotiators in Grozny.

It is seen as a first step toward ending the 8-month-old war, in which tens of thousands were killed. Negotiations are to continue, however, on a political settlement that would define Chechnya's relationship to Russia.