Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 14:17 GMT
Freezing Chechens plead for help
Russian troops are continuing their advance on Chechnya's main towns
Human rights investigators from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have been mobbed by Chechen refugees at a camp in neighbouring Ingushetia.
While about 50 refugees mobbed the investigators, pleading for help, Russian artillery fire could be heard from inside Chechnya.
Eight-thousand refugees live in the Sleptsovsk camp which is covered in deep snow with temperatures well below freezing.
Mr Traavik said that the OSCE intended to put forward a peace initiative to Moscow to end the two-month-old conflict.
The team hopes to enter Chechnya briefly on Thursday. Ambassador Traavik said the OSCE wanted to assess the situation for itself, but he was disturbed by the television images he has seen from inside the republic.
A spokesperson for the humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres told the BBC that its workers would not go into Chechnya.
Click here to see a map of the region
"The risk is far too high," said Frances Stevenson. "We do not want our people to come back in body bags."
All out war threat
Russia is showing no sign of ending its campaign. The commander of the Russian forces in the region, General Viktor Kazantsev, told the daily newspaper Trud that, if ordered to, he would flatten Chechnya with bombs in a week.
"Let's say the president tells me: 'Kazantsev, I introduce martial law in Chechnya.' Then I will finish the war in a week.
"I will flatten the whole place with bombs," he said.
"They would all come running to me with white flags. That is - those still alive.... But that would be a war. What I am conducting is a counter-terrorist operation," he told the paper.
Russian artillery was active outside the village of Geek 15 km (9 miles) southwest of Grozny on Tuesday night, but reports on Wednesday morning said it was quiet near the capital.
The few citizens that are still in Grozny are hiding in cellars during the nightly bombing raids.
"We are all just so tired. But somebody is profiting from this war," one market trader told Reuters news agency.
Russian troops have also surrounded Chechnya's second city, Gudermes, to the east.
The Georgian authorities have stopped issuing visas to citizens of 21 countries, most of them Arab and Islamic, including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Egypt and Bosnia-Hercegovina.
The head of the Georgian border guards, Valeri Chkheidze, said the decision was being taken against countries which were potential suppliers of arms and men to Chechen militants.
On several occasions, Russia had complained that weapons were entering Chechnya through Georgia.