Last Saturday, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that reduction of the federal group of forces planned by Moscow was suspended. Moreover, according to him, “the troops in Chechnya started a harsh, but directed, special operation in all districts of the republic aimed at prevention of threats in the embryo.”
There is no need to guess why this happened. According to the military, the separatists are still active. They are also getting more active on the Georgian-Russian border. According to sources in the Defense Ministry, there they detect “motion of bandit groups towards Dagestan.” According to the border guards, the militants are going to organize a number of terrorist acts not only in Chechnya but also in the neighboring regions. The leaders of the separatists are also becoming more active. Recently one of the most influential chieftains of the bandit forces, Shamil Basaev, released an important statement. In his message to leader of the separatists Aslan Maskhadov, he undertook responsibility for the terrorist act in Moscow and requested that Maskhadov dismiss him from all “official posts in Ichkeria” to enable him to head the special battalion of kamikaze Royadus-Salihin. Basaev is going to continue the terrorist actions. He says that nobody will take hostages and offer any demands anymore. According to the one-legged field commander, the shakhids will “destroy their enemies,” that is, blow up railway stations, houses and so on.
For the federal authorities such statements are not simply words. Basaev is a dangerous and bloody terrorist. It is necessary to counteract him stringently and skillfully. What this means in reality is shown by certain events.
From November 1, the regime of passing through of automobiles was tightened at the checkpoints in Chechnya. Directed sweep activities are organized and so on. However, in his interview for WPS Selim Tsuev, spokesperson for the Commandant of the Chechen Republic denied the reports of some mass media that a curfew was introduced in Chechnya. He said, “This is not so. A curfew was never introduced there. There is simply a provisional limitation. Traffic of all automobiles in Chechnya is prohibited between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.”
He also says that withdrawal of “excessive” troops from Chechnya will probably be suspended for one or two months. Tsuev does not explain how many and which units of the Armed Forces were to be withdrawn from Chechnya between November and December. Speaking about the number of the military commandants’ offices, he says that their reduction is not planned. “They operate stringently following the provision on the military commandants’ offices that the President of Russia signed on October 4,” said Tsuev.
Attempting to neutralize the bandits with all available methods, the federal authorities are implementing the most stringent plan of combating of the separatists. Success of their actions is out of the question. At any rate, it is obvious that the military component of the work of the federal authorities in Chechnya is already inefficient. Despite the big forces concentrated in Chechnya the troops in the republic bear big losses. For example, an Mi-8 military cargo helicopter with top-ranking officers of the 58th army was downed above Khankala last Sunday. It is known that units of this army are operating in Chechnya. It is possible that the officers involved in organization of active and harsh measures in the territory of the republic were killed in the helicopter.
Meanwhile, a combat infantry vehicle was blown up in Shali. A source in the Interior Ministry reported that the radio-controlled mine was activated at the moment when the vehicle with soldiers was moving to the area of operation. An officer and two soldiers were wounded. A car with policemen was also blown up on November 4 in the Leninsky District of Grozny. A captain of militia from Novgorod was wounded. No casualties of the attackers were reported. The military say that the militants will not confine themselves to subversion and in the near future will organize a whole series of terrorist acts in the republic. Colonel Boris Podoprigora, Deputy Commander of the United Group of Forces in the North Caucasus, reported, “militants including Arab mercenaries keep penetrating Chechnya for preparation of a series of attention-claiming terrorist acts aimed at destabilization of the situation in Chechnya and probably outside of it.”
Hence the troops in Chechnya are organizing checks in the Shali District and sweeping the Oktyabrsky District of Grozny, from where the missile was fired from a portable launcher at the Mi-8 helicopter. Colonel Selim Tsuev, Deputy Military Commandant of Chechnya, reported about this to WPS. He said that the whole Oktyabrsky District is blocked, and the population and abandoned houses are being checked. As a result of the check two terrorists, who participated in the downing of the helicopter, were already killed.
Thus, the troops are acting and hope for complete eradication of the terrorists. Now it is difficult to say if these hopes will come true. Probably the situation in the republic will be stabilized, although we have already observed this many times. Stabilization is followed by a new outburst of terrorist acts and murders of servicemen. So far, the federal forces are not changing their methods of law enforcement in Chechnya. The militants are also acting in the same way, killing the federal servicemen.