Photography: 98for98

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As we continue with The Independent and the Hulton Getty Picture Collection's '98 For '98 - the Year in Photographs, here are postcards from soldiers at the front line of the Grozny Chechen offensive. The war in Chechnya lasted 17 months and cost more than 30,000 lives. Chechen rebels wanted independence; Russia saw Chechnya as part of their national territory.

A group of Chechen separatists seized a hospital in January, taking 200 hostages. Led by Salman Raduyev - "the Lone Wolf" - they occupied the village of Pervomayskaya. When the Russian troops came, more than 150 Chechen rebels were reported killed, while some 100 escaped. Fears were raised that some bodies found in the village were those of hostages.

For many this typified Russia's conduct in the war, and the Russian media criticised the inefficiency of the military operations. The costly occupation, became increasingly unpopular with the Russian people.

Boris Yeltsin began to believe he would not win the presidential election without peace. The two sides finally met over a negotiating table on 30 May. By 10 June, Russia had agreed to withdraw troops from Chechnya. But in the first week of August Chechen guerillas assaulted the capital, Grozny. Only then, after days of ferocious bombardment, did the Russian guns fall silent. Peace was initiated by Russia's National Security Adviser, Alexander Lebed, who went on to sign a treaty with the Chechen leader, Aslan Maskhadov. Lebed walked out of the meeting announcing, "That is it, the war is over". But the status of the country will not be finally decided until after 31 December, 2001.

Meanwhile, with both the European Football Championships and the Olympic Games this year, many spent the summer watching television, pint in hand. In England the topical question was: what were you doing when hopes for a home victory were dashed in the semi-final? Opinion would be for ever divided as to the consolation of losing on a penalty shoot-out.

For details of Photo 98's events and exhibitions, contact 01484 559 888 or www.photo98.com. Currently showing is `Four Frontiers: The work of Keith Piper', on the theme of the changing nature of Europe. To 28 June at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford.

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