December 26, 1994 – So much for the spirit of Christmas, this day after in 1994. Loaded with conflict, beginning with news from the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya and the Civil War brewing. President Boris Yeltsin was preparing to go before the Russian people to advocate for a pullout of troops, in what Yeltsin said was “time to end the military campaign there”. This was the second time in as many weeks that Yeltsin addressed the nation over the situation. Many viewed this “strategic retreat” as a bow to public pressure to get out of Chechnya. Yeltsin stressed that the Military phase of the operation was over, and that meant the Police would be relied upon to restore order. The conflict in Chechnya claimed many lives and wrecked the Capitol of Grozny in the process, but the change in policy also came with no admission of error. Yeltsin was adamant that he had done nothing wrong; did not say there were any violations, did not say he was trying to placate anyone. Yeltsin was taking charge as President of what he termed a “lawless situation”. However a diplomatic end to the conflict did not appear promising and some were afraid the fighting would resume. Christmas brought a wave of aerial bombardments of Grozny by Russian Airforce and ground fighting went pretty much unchecked.
Meanwhile, Conflict in Bosnia – fighting in the northwest pocket of Bihac threatened to destroy a new truce between Muslim and Serb forces. The Muslim led Bosnian government gave UN Peacekeepers until this day to stop attacks by Bosnian and Croat Serbs and their Muslim rebel allies. The situation exacerbated frustration for UN Commander Lt. Colonel Sir Michael Rose over his lack of influence over Muslim Rebels in the area. Sources said the problem was not going to be solved until the situation in Bihac was settled to everyone’s satisfaction.
One American Serviceman was spending Christmas as a prisoner of North Korea. Sources in Seoul said there was no substantial progress on the part of U.S. and North Korean officials to negotiate a release of Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall, whose helicopter went down nine days earlier in North Korea. Hall’s co-pilot was killed and his remains were returned, but Hall’s release was still on hold pending further “investigation” of the incident by North Korea.
And the hijacked Air France jetliner drama was continuing at an airport runway in Marseille, where the jet had moved, after the fundamentalist Muslim hijackers released two of some 170 passengers and crew who were now held for three days. The moving of the plane, closer to the control tower was met with skepticism since the plane hadn’t been refueled since it landed in Marseille some 12 hours earlier. It was disclosed the French authorities did not want the plane taking off. The Hijackers wanted to plane refueled in order to fly to Paris and they also wanted a Press conference.
And that’s just a little of what went on, this December 26, 1994 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.