|W O R L D||
Monday, December 27, 1999
|Russians retreat in face of
GROZNY, Dec 26 Several thousand well-armed Russian forces poured into Grozny today but advanced cautiously, pulling back as soon as they came under fire from an estimated 2,000 rebels holed up in the besieged city.
China puts key Falun Gong members on trial
BEIJING, Dec 26 China put four leading members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement on trial today, cordoning off the courthouse in western Beijing.
SLEPTSOVSKAYA: A refugee woman carries a baby in cold and snowy weather as she waits to return to Chechnya through the Adler checkpoint near the Chechen border on Saturday. Despite fierce fighting continuing in the region about 50,000 refugees have returned to Chechnya rather than live in overcrowded refugee camps in the neighbouring region of Ingushetia. AP/PTI
is Times person of century
provoked clashes with Syria
for ban on arms
Russians retreat in face of rebels fire
GROZNY, Dec 26 (AFP, Reuters) Several thousand well-armed Russian forces poured into Grozny today but advanced cautiously, pulling back as soon as they came under fire from an estimated 2,000 rebels holed up in the besieged city.
The Russians are retreating every time they get into a fight, an AFP correspondent on the front line reported. They are not storming it like they did during the futile 1994-96 war.
The federal troops made their best progress on the southern and eastern fronts of Grozny, according to soldiers. There were clearly Russian casualties, although people in charge refused to give any figures.
The AFP correspondent said perhaps 2,000 of the estimated 100,000 Russian forces encircling Grozny had so far entered the rebel capital.
Only soldiers streaked into Grozny, with tanks and armoured personnel carriers waiting on the outside of what federal forces estimate is a city mined at every corner.
Yesterday, the first day of the Grozny attack, one Chechen leader claimed that 300 Russian soldiers were gunned down by separatists in the attack. Moscow denies that figure, which is impossible to verify as walking around Grozny is unsafe. Meanwhile, Russian ministers estimate that 45,000 to 50,000 civilians remain in basements of the shelled-out city.
Russias ORT television said Russian troops had made deep advances into Grozny, reaching a strategically important square.
According to officers, full control over Grozny will be established in the near future, an ORT correspondent said, reporting from Mozdok, Russias main military base in north Caucasus, just outside Chechnya.
Though Minutka Square is not yet fully under control, it has been crossed several times by Interior Ministry troops heading for the centre, the correspondent said.
The square, just a few minutes drive from the heart of the devastated city, was the scene of fierce battles in the 1994-1996 Chechen war which ended in a Russian retreat.
ORT also said the rebels did not have a single line of defence and had ceded some of the districts without fighting, but had left them heavily mined. They offer fierce resistance only on strategically important squares and street crossings, the correspondent said.
Nothing terrible is happening in Grozny, all thats going on is a continuation of the operation to free the city of bandits, Itar-Tass news agency quoted the commander of Russian forces in Chechnya, General Viktor Kazantsev, as saying.
Lets not hurry but youll soon see, he said when asked whether the Russian flag would soon fly over the capital.
Russian media accounts say the next-to-last phase of the methodical Grozny campaign started on Saturday but is regarded by the generals as a side-show to the longer task of rooting out rebel bases in the southern mountains.
Gen Kazantsev, who was a
chief of staff during the last Chechen war, said the
troops were meeting their tasks and were tightening
the circle around the city. The operation in
the southern mountains was going according to
China puts key Falun Gong members on trial
BEIJING, Dec 26 (AP, Reuters) China put four leading members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement on trial today, cordoning off the courthouse in western Beijing with scores of policemen to prevent protests by group members.
The trial, the most significant since the government outlawed the Falun Gong five months ago, began amid tight security. Uniformed and plainclothes cops guarded the area Beijings No. 1 Intermediate Peoples Court, questioning passersby and warning foreign journalists to leave.
Controls are severe otherwise, a lot of people would have come out here, said one Falun Gong member.
There was no sign of protesters near the courthouse. In heavily guarded Tiananmen Square, however, the police questioned and forced into vans about 20 persons.
Falun Gong members have embarrassed the authorities by staging frequent peaceful protests in the square since the ban on their group was announced on July 22.
All four being tried today Li Chang, Wang Zhiwen, Ji Liewu and Yao Jie were Communist Party members holding positions of influence in government or business. Their background, underscores Falug Gongs reach the Communist Governments fear of the popular group and the difficulties of suppressing it.
The four could receive sentences of 20 years or more in prison for nursing an evil cult to undermine the implementation of laws and other crimes, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Movement.
The four, arrested on July 20, have been accused of masterminding a 10,000-strong Falun Gong protest outside Chinas leadership compound in Beijing in April to demand official status for their an action that led to the movements eventual July banning.
State media called the protest the most serious political incident since the 1989 student-led demonstration for democracy in Tiannamen Square that were brutally crushed by the Army.
The Centre said the trial had been postponed twice, apparently due to international pressure US concerns over religious freedom in China have lately focused on Beijings harsh crackdown on the quasi-spiritual movement A mishmash of Buddhism, Taoism, meditation and breathing exercise designed to harness inner energy and heal.
Lanka set for snap parliamentary poll
COLOMBO, Dec 26 (UNI) Sri Lanka is set to hold a snap parliamentary election as President Chandrika Kumaratunga moves to consolidate her re-election at a closely contested vote last week, political sources said.
Ruling party sources said they expected Kumaratunga to hold the parliamentary elections by April, several months before the term of the current parliament expires in August.
Mrs Kumaratungas presidential election was also held 10 months ahead of schedule and a general election just after Tuesdays victory is expected to give the ruling party a psychological boost.
Even before going in for the presidential elections, Kumaratunga had hinted that she could go for a snap parliamentary polls no sooner the presidential election was concluded.
Mrs Kumaratunga won 51 per cent at the December 21 election, down from the the record 62 per cent she won in November 1994.
The ruling party has only a one-seat majority in the 225-member Legislative Assembly and lacks the mandatory two thirds majority to make sweeping constitutional reforms promised by President Kumaratunga.
Doctors in London have ruled out surgery on the President for shrapnel injuries, sustained during assassination bid by the LTTE, and declared her fit to resume official duties.
After extensive investigations, it was decided that no surgical intervention was required. The injury to the right eye is receiving further attention and will be under constant review, an official press note issued stated here today.
The medical team of experts from Sri Lanka accompanying the President in collaboration with team of medical experts from London has... recommended that she could resume normal duties forthwith, the press note said.
Chandrika sustained serious injuries in the face and head during an LTTE suicide bomb attack, on December 18, at an election rally in the run-up to the presidential polls here, that killed 21 persons.
Einstein is Times person of century
HONG KONG, Dec 26 The Time magazine has named Albert Einstein as the person of the century.
In a century that will be remembered foremost for its science and technology in particular for our ability to understand and then harness the forces of the atom and universe one person clearly stands out as both the greatest mind and paramount icon of our age: the kindly, absent-minded professor whose wild halo of hair, piercing eyes, engaging humanity and extraordinary brilliance made his face a symbol and his name a synonym for genius, Albert Einstein.
As the centurys greatest thinker, as an immigrant who fled from oppression to freedom, as a political idealist, he best embodies what historians will regard as significant about the 20th century. And as a philosopher with faith both in science and in the beauty of Gods handiwork, he personifies the legacy that has been bequeathed to the next century.
In a hundred years as we turn to another new century, nay, 10 times a 100 years when we turn to another new millennium, the name that will prove most enduring from our own amazing era will be that of Albert Einstein genius, political refugee, humanitarian, locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe.
Einsteins impact, says Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson, was not only on theoretical physics. His work also had practical implications for the centurys most important fields of technology; television, nuclear weapons, space travel and semiconductors.
The Timess issue features an essay explaining Einsteins scientific significance by Stephen W. Hawking, the worlds greatest living theoretical physicist. Hawking, who devised theories of the Big Bang and black holes based on Einsteins work, is the author of the classic book A Brief History of Time, which has sold close to nine million copies.
In his piece for the time magazine he concludes: The world has changed far more in the past hundred years than in any other century in history. The reason is not political or economic, but technological technologies that flowed directly from advances in basic science. Clearly, no scientist better represents those advances than Albert Einstein.
As runners-up, the magazine chose US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Indias Mahatma Gandhi.
Israel provoked clashes with Syria
WASHINGTON, Dec 26 (PTI) Most of the border clashes between Syria and Israel during 1948-67 were provoked by Israel and it was Israel, not Syria, which started the 1967 war to seize Golan heights, Israeli General Moshe Dayan is quoted as saying in an interview to be published posthumously.
Israels famed one-eyed general told Israeli journalist, Rami Tal, "I made a mistake in allowing the (Israeli) conquest of Golan heights. As defence minister, I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time."
In the interview, made public by his daughter recently, Dayan said the (1967) attack proceeded not because Israel was threatened but because of pressure from land-hungry Israeli farmers and army commanders in northern Israel.
Though Syria did shell
the area creating cold hostility, "at least 80 per
cent" of two decades of border clashes were
initiated by Israel, he said. There were more than 1,000
armed clashes between Syria and Israel in 1948-67 that
culminated in the 1967 war.
Pope for ban on arms
VATICAN CITY, Dec 26 (AFP) Pope John Paul II called for a ban on the use of arms and an end to violence, hatred and abortions in his Christmas homily, only hours after ringing in the catholic Churchs jubilee 2000 festivities.
We lift our eyes to you, O Christ...as we visit all the places of grief and war, the resting places of victims of brutal conflicts and cruel slaughter, said the Pope.
Christ, he said, had invited humanity to ban the senseless use of arms and the recourse to violence and hatred which have doomed individuals, peoples and continents.
At times, people have refused to respect and love their brothers and sisters of a different race of faith, and denied fundamental rights to individuals and nations, he said.
This seemed to
anticipate a papal mea culpa scheduled for
March in which he is expected to recognise the Roman
Catholic Churchs responsibility for past
injustices, even crimes, including the inquisitions
activities and anti-semitism.
|Loyalist forces surrender
ABIDJAN: The National Gendarmerie, the security unit which had been considered the most loyal to Cote dIvoire President Henri Konan Bedie, formally declared allegiance yesterday to the soldiers who overthrew him on Friday, reliable sources said. Gendarmerie units were then deployed in Abidjan to put a stop to looting, the sources said. AFP
bombs guerrilla hideouts
6 church leaders
2 MiG 29 planes
| Punjab | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir |
| Chandigarh | Editorial | Business | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |