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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Russian Forces Facing Strong Resistance From Islamic Rebels in Chechnya

Aired January 3, 2000 - 10:08 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: In Chechnya, Russian forces finding strong resistance from Islamic rebels as they assault the capital of Grozny. Russia's NTV Television reporting Russia's special forces and pro-Russian Chechen militias have been suffering setbacks against the well-entrenched rebels.

We learn more now from CNN's Steve Harrigan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The early helicopters out of Grozny are for the seriously wounded: those who may have lost the sense of vision or the sense of smell forever. Those who can walk are evacuated next. The dead wait for the evening. The bodies or the remains are wrapped in foil. It's a slow, silent march out of Grozny, as if the bearers are ashamed of their cargo.

(on camera): Russians killed in Chechnya are not called dead soldiers, corpses or bodies. Instead, they have a code name. They're called 200s.

(voice-over): That's the average weight in kilograms of a body in a zinc coffin. 200s are not shown on Russian television; neither are the wounded. That may be part of the reason the war remains popular with the Russian people, but it does not explain why the war remains popular with the Russian soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We should have finished it the last time we fought four years ago. If we don't finish it now, we'll have to come back again in another four years.

HARRIGAN: If finish means the complete destruction of the city of Grozny, the war could go on for months. But as some Russian soldiers meet another new year in the trenches, for others the fighting is already over.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Mozdok, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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