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Civilians are filling the brunt of the Russian military campaign, laments Maskhadov
The refugee flow from Chechnya to neighboring Ingushetia has topped 133,000, but supplies still are lacking, according to the territory's leader.

Ingushetia President Ruslan Aushev said Friday that 14,000 refugees had arrived during the previous 24 hours, the biggest one-day total so far.

"We have an acute shortage of food, baby food, warm clothes, blankets, and even more important -- tents, trailers and stoves," he told the Interfax news agency. "If the situation does not change, people will have to spend the winter out in the open."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday that Moscow had the right to deploy its forces in Chechnya or wherever else it wanted on its own territory.

"Chechnya is the territory of the Russian Federation and the armed forces have the right to be deployed wherever they want on the territory of their own country," Putin told reporters during a summit of ex-Soviet states in the Ukrainian resort of Yalta.

Putin was defending Russia's decision to send ground troops into Chechnya after weeks of air strikes. The campaign is aimed at Islamic militants blamed for invading neighboring Dagestan twice this summer.

Russian leaders also blame the militants for a series of apartment explosions that killed some 300 people in Russia in September.

Chechnya calls for peace talks

Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov urged Moscow on Friday to find a peaceful way to end the conflict.

Referring to Chechnya's 1994-96 war with Russia, Maskhadov said another full-fledged war would again result "in Russia's shame and defeat." He criticized Russia for refusing to hold peace negotiations and for calling his government illegitimate.

Russian military officials say their planes and artillery continued to pound Chechen, targets

"Russia has launched a full-scale war against Chechnya, breaking the peace treaty signed by the Chechen and Russian presidents," Maskhadov said in comments published Friday in the newspaper Kommersant. "In this situation I had no other choice but to declare war."

More Russian soldiers die fighting

Eight Russian soldiers were killed Friday as Russian planes and artillery continued to pound Chechen targets on several fronts, the military said.

Officials said four soldiers were killed inside Chechnya and four died in neighboring Dagestan.

Maskhadov said a total of 20 Chechen fighters and about 100 Russian soldiers have been killed. The Russians have provided much lower casualty figures for their own troops.

Maskhadov said civilians are bearing the brunt of the Russian military campaign, with a total of 450 civilians killed in Chechnya in the past two weeks.

Chechen officials said that in one of the more gruesome episodes of the conflict, a bus carrying refugees was hit by a Russian tank round Tuesday, killing 41 people.

Maskhadov is a former Soviet army officer who helped lead the rebels in the war with Russia three years ago. The fighting ended with a peace agreement that gave Chechnya effective independence.

Maskhadov then won an overwhelming victory in a 1997 election. The election was declared fair by international monitors. Russian President Boris Yeltsin sent his congratulations, and Russia said it wanted to rebuild relations with Chechnya.

But Russia refused to recognize Chechnya's claim of independence. Russian leaders now describe Maskhadov's government as unlawful, and are trying to build support for a parliament made up of Chechens in exile.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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