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The Russian government's credibility was tested when a major gas pipeline exploded early this morning in a remote area 600 miles northeast of Moscow. Officials say that no one was hurt in the blast, and the fire was extinguished within two hours. But while a Japanese pilot and his passengers flying past the area said they witnessed a fireball five miles high, a spokesman for the Russian gas monopoly insisted that the flames only reached 60 feet.TIME Moscow correspondent Yuri Zarakhovichnotes that there has been little trust in what the government sayssince troops were sent to Chechnya, though the Russian press still manages fairly well. "In the old time we had all the government lying. Now the government still lies, but we have an independent press."