Today's Story Line

Stunned by Chechen rebel attacks in three "liberated" towns earlier this week, Russian troops have begun cracking down on civilians (page 1). Quote of note: "The Russians were never nice to us, but now they are suddenly very aggressive." - Chechen villager.

Indonesia's leadership is making an effort to keep Muslim-Christian clashes from erupting into a holy war (page 1).

The tug of war over Elian Gonzalez is a simple case compared with the complexity of the battle for twins born to a surrogate American mother who was paid by two wealthy British homosexuals to have their child.

Israelis would lose their only downhill ski resort if the Golan Heights is returned to Syria. A view from the slopes.

David Clark Scott World editor


*NABBED NEAR CHECHNYA: The Russian government prefers to control news coverage of the Chechen war. So reporter Fred Weir, and two other journalists, chose a roundabout route into the region. But it didn't take long for the Russian police to catch up with them in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Osettia. "We stopped at a military hospital, hoping to talk to some wounded Russian servicemen," says Fred. "We weren't allowed in, but met some soldiers outside on the street.

"Within a few minutes, plainclothes security people in big leather jackets arrived and ordered us to go with them to the local Interior Ministry office." The journalists were ushered into a spare room with little but a portrait of Stalin on the wall. "The police were very nice, but firm," says Fred. Press credentials were examined and Federal Security Service (the former KGB) agents were called.

A small Russian man, Col. A. Ortavayev, wearing a gray blazer with a gold double-breasted eagle on the pocket, "told us that we were not accredited here," says Fred. "In fact, our press credentials are good for the entire Russian Federation, except for Chechnya - now a military zone." The agent agreed that was true, but said even asking questions about Chechnya requires a special military credential. Fred asked what was wrong with talking to folks here. "He said that 'these are ordinary people here, simple people, and you're foreigners,' implying that we were taking advantage of them."

After about two hours and many phone calls, the agents returned the documents and told the journalists to leave the republic. "We did. We drove to Ingushetia [toward Chechnya]," says Fred, with a laugh. "In 14 years of living here, I've never been harassed by the secret police. It wasn't harrowing; we parted friends. But it's a disturbing development."

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