A PARTIAL DEMILITARIZATION OF CHECHNYA BEGINS

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General of the Army Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, Commander-in-Chief of the Interior Troops, states the quantity of crimes against citizens has decreased by 14% in six Chechen districts. Federal sources say that a rapid response unit of the Interior Ministry has been withdrawn from the village of Samashki. In addition, the military-transport aviation is now withdrawing an operational brigade of the Interior Troops from Chechnya to the Leningrad region. The brigade will leave the republic until April 15. In other words, the total quantity of Russian servicemen will decrease by 3,000 people. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov informed WPS that the federal forces were reinforced with 3,000 to 3,500 servicemen in 2003. At present the command plans to decrease the strength of the federal group. This means that in reality the strength of the federal forces will not go down. However, the general does not lose optimism. The leadership does plan to decrease the strength of the federal forces. According to him, “such plans will be carried out depending on the situation”. It seems that the situation in Chechnya improves. Shaa Turlayev, chief of Aslan Maskhadov’s personal guard, followed in Chechen field commanders’ footsteps and gave up. President Akhmad Kadyrov of Chechnya stated that all checkpoints may be removed from Grozny until April 20.

Meanwhile, Chechen guerrillas organize acts of sabotage from time to time. General of the Army Tikhomirov stated that the Interior Troops have killed almost 150 guerrillas and detained over 1,000 people suspected of being members of illegal armed groups since the start of the year. To date over 1,500 units of weapons and over 500,000 units of ammunition have been confiscated; over 1,000 explosions have been prevented.

The commander-in-chief of the Interior Troops says that the federal troops’ tactic has changed. Military units currently conduct special operation against concrete criminals. The Task Force plays the main role in such operations. At present four Task Force units of the Interior Troops operate in Chechnya. At the same time, ordinary units ensure the security of state government bodies and local government bodies. Military commandant’s offices remain the main guarantor of stability and social security in Chechnya.

At the same time, the general notes that it’s too early to pass over the control over the situation in the republic to the Chechen Interior Ministry. Tikhomirov stated that this will happen when the situation improves and Chechen policemen become more professional. When asked when this will happen the general said: “We do not schedule anything. We have planted a seed, and it must take root.”

In the meantime, life in Chechnya improves: call-up commissions started working in the republic on April 1. The Russian General Staff decided that Chechen young people will serve in infantry units of military commandant’s offices and the 42nd motorized infantry division. Two battalions consisting of local residents have already been created. It is not ruled out that the majority of them will sign contracts with the Russian Army. The General Staff is sure that high money allowances (around 15,000 rubles a month) will become a very good incentive to Chechen young people.

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