PM Putin Calls Massacre Report 'Complete Nonsense'
Russian officials are denying that any attack took place on Groyny with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin calling reports of the assault and heavy casualties 'complete nonsense'. But people in Grozny tell a different story. John Howard reports.
Reporters in Grozny say the evidence in front of their eyes is over 100 Russian bodies mangled, burned and spread across Minutka Square. Burned-out Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers was further evidence.
But Russian Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev, called reports about the defeat of a Russian armoured column by the rebels, "lies and misinformation."
Mr Sergeyev said " No Russian armoured vehicles have entered the city." He added that "government forces had not suffered any casualties" and that "only two soldiers had been killed in fighting over the past 24 hours."
Meanwhile, the military claimed reports of the battle were a provocation by Western news agencies, which they allege are working on behalf of the Chechen forces.
In such an atmosphere and, in what has now become a war of words and propaganda, perhaps the only thing which can tell us the whole truth is the US military satellite system which takes pictures of the earth's surface.
It has been well said that the first casualty of war is truth, and the Russian Duma (parliament) elections are to be held this weekend.