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World - Europe

Anti-Russian atrocities spur support for Chechen airstrikes

Execution
This video shows a captured Russian soldier seconds before being executed  

September 28, 1999
Web posted at: 8:55 p.m. EDT (0055 GMT)

From staff and wire reports

MOSCOW (CNN) -- Russian planes bombed targets in Chechnya for a sixth consecutive day Tuesday, as a videotape of Chechen militants committing atrocities against Russian soldiers helped rally political support for the operation.

The airstrikes have killed civilians -- including children --in Chechnya, and have caused thousands of people to flee.

Graphic video footage of horrific atrocities, apparently videotaped by the Chechen militants who committed them, has helped solidify political support, CNN reported Tuesday.

 VIDEO
VideoCNN's Mike Hanna shows footage released by Russia of Chechen atrocities (Warning: Video contains violent images some may find disturbing)
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  ALSO
 
 VIDEO
VideoCNN's Mike Hanna reports on the waves of refugees fleeing the bombing in Chechnya (September 27)
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  MESSAGE BOARD
Russia's future

 

CNN's Mike Hanna reported that the video, depicting the execution of several Russian soldiers, was shown to Russian legislators by the Federal Security Service.

In the tape, captured soldiers are shot or have their throats slit, a kidnap victim has his finger removed, and another pleads for his life before being decapitated with an ax, all on camera.

Chechen commanders make no attempt to hide their identities on the tape, leaving no reason to doubt its authenticity.

Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has repeatedly denied Russian claims that the breakaway republic is harboring terrorists, but his denial is ignored in Russia's State Duma, or lower house of parliament.

"We should hit, hit and once again hit them until Mr. Maskhadov says that there's nobody left except civilians," said Roman Popkovic, a member of the Duma's defense committee. "Then we should get in and see that for ourselves."

The support from legislators and the public -- bolstered by several deadly bombings that Russian officials attribute to Islamic terrorists operating from Chechnya -- is in contrast to the lack of support for Russia's war with the republic earlier in the decade.

Commander
This Chechnya commander makes no attempt to hide his identity on the video  

Thousands lost their lives and Russia lost any effective control over Chechnya in that unpopular two-year campaign.

Operation Whirlwind nets results, official says

But Russia responded forcefully to an Islamic incursion into the northern Caucasus republic of Dagestan, launched from Chechnya earlier this summer and led by warlords who spearheaded the Chechen side in the 1994-1996 war.

After driving the militants back across the border into Chechnya, the Russian military began airstrikes against "precise sites" inside the republic. Those sites, officials say, are being used by Islamic rebels.

Russian officials have not ruled out the possibility of some type of ground operation inside Chechnya, but say it would likely take the shape of commando actions rather than an invasion.

Aftermath
The bombing campaign against Chechnya is receiving widespread support in Russia  

The bombing raids have caused thousands of Chechens to flee the area, many into neighboring Igushetia, where they have appealed to the United Nations for aid. Some 60,000 refugees have already crossed into the region.

Inside Russia, an anti-terror operation dubbed "Operation Whirlwind" has led to the arrest of more than 100 people and identified the "terrorists" believed responsible for bombing attacks in Moscow, Volgodonsk and Dagestan's Buinaksk that killed nearly 300 people, Russian officials said.

"Seventeen warlords in Chechnya have been declared wanted and Interpol has been informed," Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo told the Itar-Tass news agency.

Rushailo said the operation had prevented 16 explosions in several towns and uncovered more than 500 tons of explosives.

Correspondent Mike Hanna and Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Russian pilots strike Chechen capital for fifth day
September 27, 1999
Kremlin debates land invasion in Chechnya
September 26, 1999
Russian bombs hit Chechnya for third day
September 25, 1999
Thousands flee as Russia bombs Chechnya for second day
September 24, 1999
Russia bombs Chechnya; Putin denies major assault planned
September 23, 1999
Russia acknowledges bombing raids in Chechnya
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Rebels say they're out of Dagestan; Russia says war contiues
August 23, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Russia Today
ITAR-TASS Home Page
NUPI Center for Russian Studies
CaspianNet: Dagestan Republic
Chechen Islamic rebels (Russian)
Chechen Republic Online
NUPI Center for Russian Studies
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