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William Horsley in Moscow
"All Chechen adult males under 60 will be thoroughly checked"
 real 28k

Andrew Harding on the Chechen border
"There is no sign that Western pressure will have any impact at all"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 08:02 GMT
Russia rethinks Chechnya tactics

Russian soldier A Russian soldier puts a defiant boxing glove on his tank's gun


Officials in Russia say they are rethinking military tactics in Chechnya, after a series of setbacks at the hands of rebel fighters.

Battle for the Caucasus
The Russian commander in Chechnya, Viktor Kazantsev, has announced that only women, boys under 10, and men over 60 will be treated as refugees, a move enabling the Russians to treat all other adult men as potential rebels.

He said that rebel attacks on the towns of Shali and Argun had been made possible by insufficient checks on the adult male population, a mistake he said would not be repeated.

"It was our soft-heartedness, but often our trust has been misplaced," General Kazantsev said.

Three rebels - a Chechen and two mercenaries of Slavic origin - were detained early on Wednesday during a special operation, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Click here for a map of the region

Russian military sources said that all three had taken part in the fighting.

Over 30 people suspected of involvement in military operations or contacts with Chechen rebels have been detained by Russian troops since Tuesday.

Reverses

Russian generals are on the defensive after a series of dramatic raids on Chechen towns under their control.

Russian television stations broadcast reports late on Tuesday from Shali, a town in south-east Chechnya which was again under Russian control after a day of fierce fighting.


Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin announced "new methods"
Russian troops had taken the town weeks ago, but Chechens attacked it and several others simultaneously on Sunday, and Russian troops had to fight hard to regain control.

Both sides also described clashes in and around Grozny and in the southern mountains, where Russia's military said it also carried out air strikes.

In Moscow, Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev said Acting President Vladimir Putin had approved new methods to press on with the three-and-a-half-month campaign, although he gave no details.

Meanwhile, the Chechen rebels have announced that they will now switch to a tactic of constant partisan raids.

The Russian media was showing signs of concern after the military reverses.

"For the first time this new war recalls the events of 1994-96," the daily Nezavisimaya Gazyeta wrote on Tuesday, referring to the Chechens' successful tactic of guerrilla attacks during that war.

"If the political leadership does not make serious strategic changes in its North Caucasus policy, then we can expect more serious casualties and defeats," said the newspaper Izvestiya.




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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  Europe
Putin: Russia must be great again
11 Jan 00 |  Europe
Analysis: Media swings against military
11 Jan 00 |  Europe
Analysis: Russia's tough military lesson
10 Jan 00 |  Europe
Can Russia win the Chechen war?
11 Jan 00 |  Europe
Chechens 'break Grozny siege'
11 Jan 00 |  Media reports
Russian TV cooler on Chechnya
24 Oct 99 |  Europe
The first bloody battle for Grozny

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