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With his troops in semi-retreat after an unsuccessful push to end the calamitousChechnya rebellion, Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered an end to air strikes that had laid waste to wide areas of the separatist republic's capital, Grozny. It was unclear whether Yeltsin's order, announced as he sent more crack Russian units toward the city, was a prelude to peace talks or a lull before a fresh ground assault. Yeltsin is facing renewed political opposition to the unpopular war at home and abroad. In Moscow, Grigory Yavlinsky, a leading reform lawmaker, called for his resignation. European criticism became unabashed for the first time, as France demanded that Russia explain the increasingly brutal campaign, Germany accused Russia of violating Chechens' human rights and British officials called for an end to the fighting. In Grozny, another Russian reformer, Sergei Kovalyov, emerged from three weeks in the besieged presidential palace to warn, "It's unacceptable for a country to lie constantly. Grozny now will decide the fate of Russia."