Friday, September 24, 1999 Published at 19:41 GMT 20:41 UK
Media gung-ho over Grozny
Russian TV stations have been resounding with government statements defending the air strikes on Chechnya.
"For the first time in our history, criminals, due to certain well-known circumstances, have managed to take control over one of the constituent parts of the Federation," Mr Rushaylo told a news conference, extensively reported on Russia's NTV and Russian Public TV channels.
"They have imposed their will on an entire nation by force of arms and violence...
"Their aim is to tear a region of utmost geo-strategic importance away from the country and to establish there some kind of criminal enclave to train international terrorists and to draw up plans for their operations all over the world unimpeded," he said.
NTV's correspondent said the idea of Russian forces carrying out "special operations on Chechen territory" had gained "broad public support".
Speaking on Russian Public TV after air strikes on Chechnya's main airport, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the "terrorists" would not be able even to use the lavatory in peace.
"We shall hunt the terrorists down wherever they are and wherever we catch them - be it at the airport or in the loo, pardon the expression.
"We shall finish them off in the loo, if we need to."
Caucasians 'back crackdown'
With security still high in Moscow itself following the apartment-block bombings, and amid allegations from human rights activists that the city authorities are persecuting non-ethnic Russians, NTV has been showing interviews with market traders from the Caucasus in which they back the crackdown for the camera.
"The war has started, so certain measures must be taken in accordance with the laws of wartime," one trader from Dagestan said after he and his colleagues had their vehicle searched at the city's huge Luzhniki market.
"Our people, both back home and here, accept it quite normally. No indignation, no complaints. It must be so."
The Communist speaker of the lower house of Russia's parliament, Gennadiy Seleznev, has set aside his customary attacks on the Yeltsin administration to back the air strikes on Grozny.
"Militants' depots are being bombed, and the radio station, which at present is poisoning all other republics with its propaganda garbage, not just in the North Caucasus, but also in Azerbaijan and so forth," he said in a live interview for Ekho Moskvy radio.
The bombing could have been "avoided completely" if President Aslan Maskhadov had helped the Russian government fight terrorism, the State Duma speaker said, "but it seems he has no authority over Chechnya beyond his presidential palace".
Yegor Stroyev, the speaker of the upper house of parliament who is considered a strong Yeltsin ally, defended air strikes on Grozny airport, saying it was used to ferry in arms and drugs from outside Russia.
He added that "mercenaries" based in Chechnya were "shielding themselves with Chechen children and then alleging that Russian troops were striking at peaceful civilians".
Chechnya facing economic ruin
The bombs dropped by Russia's "carrion crows", as Chechnya-based Islamic militants describe them on their Kavkaz-Tsentr Website, look set to devastate remains of the breakaway republic's economic resources.
Groznyy oil refinery official Sheykhakhmed Edilov told the Russian news agency Interfax that Chechnya's entire annual budget was not enough to repair the bomb damage to the plant.
"The military leadership of the Russian Federation has evidently assumed a policy of completely blockading Chechnya and destroying its restored and remaining industrial facilities," he said.
"This gives us reason to confidently say that the war has the purpose of ruining the Chechen economy."
Easing the tension
In an interview for Interfax news agency, given in Grozny as aerial bombs exploded in the background, President Maskhadov said the lives of thousands of Russians and Chechens depended on Russian leaders agreeing to negotiate.
Air strikes were a "waste of effort" as Chechens came together in a time of crisis, he said.
While Chechnya would never make concessions which conflicted with its aim of building an "independent Islamic state", it was prepared to cooperate with Russia economically and would avoid any alliances damaging to Russian interests.
Maskhadov added that Chechnya continued to seek a formal peace treaty with Russia.
The president of the Russian republic of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, echoed Maskhadov's concern by saying that further military action could unite Chechens around the very militants Moscow was fighting.
"We definitely must struggle against terrorists and bandits, I understand that, but we should never push the entire nation into the arms of those terrorists and bandits," he told NTV.
BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.