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Chechnya, Kremlin Brace For Impact

CHECHENS facing a Russian ultimatum began packing their belongings and evacuating their capital, Grozny, yesterday as jets bombed the airport for the second time in two days.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin warned the region's long-warring factions to disarm and release all Russian prisoners by this morning or risk direct Russian intervention in their Caucasus Mountains republic.

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Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev, who declared his republic's independence from Moscow in 1991, says Russia is already directly involved in Chechnya's war. Moscow openly backs the opposition to Mr. Dudayev, but denies providing military assistance.

The Kremlin has taken precautions in advance of the ultimatum's deadline today. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin canceled a trip to Siberia, while the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta said Yeltsin's personal security had been stepped up because officials feared Chechen fighters could attack the president's motorcade with grenade launchers. Norway's `no' to EU came as no surprise

WHEN it comes to the outside world, Norwegians are like their Viking ancestors - quick to grab what they like and retreat to their wealthy kingdom.

Asked Monday if they wanted to join the European Union, Norwegians - as one newspaper put it - said ``No, as usual.'' In 1972 they also rejected what was then the European Economic Community.

Compared to most of Europe, Norway can afford to be standoffish. The country of 4.3 million is Western Europe's largest oil exporter, and - unlike EU-bound Sweden and Finland - is enjoying an economic upswing.

For many, the word ``Union'' was reason enough to vote ``No.'' Norway spent hundreds of years until 1905 in union with Sweden or Denmark, or both.

France's minister for European affairs, Alain Lamassoure, warned that Norwegians now must live with the consequences. ``The Norwegian people are taking the risk of living right next to an enormous economic alliance whose rules will be imposed on it,'' he said.

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