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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechnya Cease-Fire For V-E Day In Tatters

President Boris Yeltsin's May holiday truce for Chechnya was in tatters Wednesday, six days after he signed a decree ordering a halt to offensive operations.


Five Russian checkpoints in the south and the center of the Chechen capital, Grozny, came under small-arms fire from Chechen guerrillas Wednesday, Reuters reported, in the latest of a series of new flare-ups in the war-torn republic.


"The moratorium is being broken by illegal armed formations," Defense Ministry spokesman Vasily Zyubin said Wednesday, using Moscow's standard description of the Chechen rebel fighters.


"Everything is being done as prescribed in the president's decree," Zyubin said. "We are carrying it out in full. Naturally if someone attacks us, we are forced to open fire."


But Pyotr Kosov, who is the chief aide to Ingush President Ruslan Aushev, said Sunday that the Russian side was breaking its own truce with repeated bombardment of the villages of Bamut, near the border with Ingushetia, and Alkhazurovo further east.


"In the full sense of the word it is not working," Kosov said of the truce. "There are still artillery barrages, and there were last night, but there are no active offensive operations."


Zyubin said Russian forces were not going on the offensive and were acting to avoid "provocations" from the Chechen rebels.


The unilateral truce -- which was timed to coincide with victory celebrations in Moscow on May 9, due to be attended by some 50 world leaders -- has been rejected by rebel president Dzhokhar Dudayev.


A statement apparently released by Dudayev in the mountain village of Vedeno on Saturday and carried by Interfax said that by declaring the moratorium, Moscow intended only to try to "show the world its love of peace" and "deepen the divide in Chechen society.


"The citizens and government of Chechnya do not need a temporary truce or a moratorium, let alone an amnesty," the statement said.


Chechen commander Aslan Maskhadov told Russian General Gennady Troshev on Saturday that his side would not honor a truce in Chechnya until Russian forces withdrew.


A Chechen military commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Ekho Moskvy radio station Tuesday that the rebels were now planning to step up their attacks as the May 9 ceremonies approached. He said large attack squads were being formed around the towns of Shali and Gudermes.


Fighting has continued around Gudermes, Chechnya's second city, which the Russians announced they had captured March 30. An officer with the special reaction force said the Russians lost 40 dead and 80 wounded last week. A battle is continuing for Bamut, which the Russians have still not captured.


Over the weekend, fighting broke out in Grozny, which had been relatively quiet for the past month. Russian forces reported 35 separate attacks on their command posts Sunday. The Moscow-backed local administration declared a curfew in the city to last until July 1.


The ease with which the guerrillas are penetrating the city and evading checkpoints, almost three months after it was declared captured, indicates that Dudayev's fighters are far from beaten.


ORT television reported Sunday that up to 1,000 fighters had taken part in raids in Grozny. A military source told Reuters the Chechens had 800 fighters in the city. A Russian military spokesman told Interfax on Tuesday that there were fighters in the woods south of the city who fired on patrols during the night.