Russia: March 20, 2000


Acting President Putin flew to Chechnya in a two seat Su-24 bomber and gave pep talks to the troops. Despite the fierce fighting in Chechnya, Putin is popular with the troops and the Russian population in general. He is expected to easily win election as president in the coming vote. A thousand or so rebels are still holding out in the village of Sharo-Argun. The village is surrounded and .being pounded with artillery and bombs. Russian troops mopping up in the southern village of Komsomolskoye found and freed a Russian pilot captured last October when his aircraft was shot down.  Russia has sent more troops to Ingushetia and Dagestan to prevent Chechen rebels from raiding into those areas (which have small Chechen populations.)


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