Yeltsin Blusters Over Chechnya

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GROZNY, CHECHNYA: A grenade explosion killed three antiwar prostestors and and injured seven when it exploded in a crowd of antiwar protestors camping in front of the bombed out presidential palace in Chechnya. The demonstrators are calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the end of the Chechen war, which has killed as many as 30,000 since fighting began last December. Yeltsin ruled out unconditional withdrawal, saying that a "total slaughter" would sweep Chechnya if the Russians left, which is surprising since Grozny was razed, and casualties mounted only after the Russian army invaded. Although Yeltsin realizes how low he has sunk in pre-election polls, his press secretary, Sergei Medvedev, says Yeltsin refuses to "beg" Jokar Dudayev for peace, which means talks are not on the horizon. TIME'S Yuri Zarakhovich reports: "This war is destroying Russia. People aren't being paid. The Army is hungry. It's no coincidence that Russia is asking the IMF for 9 billion dollars, which is 30 trillion roubles: the cost of the Chechnya campaign. If Yeltsin pulls off a peace agreement, he could save both his chances and Russia itself, but he must talk to Dudayev and negotiate a peace soon."