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Chechen Leader Says 'Counterterror Operations' Will End Soon, Moscow Disagrees

March 26, 2009

Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has predicted that by the end of this month the "appropriate agencies" will issue a directive lifting the restrictions imposed on Chechnya in September 1999 at the beginning of the second Chechen war.

Speaking in Grozny on March 25 at a joint session of the Chechen government and parliament and the Russian State Duma Committee on Security, Kadyrov claimed that terrorism in Chechnya has been vanquished, and that the "group of bandits" that now "divide their time between Chechnya and neighboring republics no longer constitute a threat."

Kadyrov estimated the number of resistance fighters at between 50 and 100. On January 16, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted him as saying they numbered between 50-60.

On March 26, however, RIA Novosti and the daily "Kommersant" both quoted unnamed Russian presidential administration officials as saying that any talk of ending the "counterterror operation" by March 31 is premature. And the website kasparov.ru [http://www.kasparov.ru/material.php?id=49CB2F22AD8AE] quoted Deputy Russian Interior Minister Colonel General Arkady Yedelev as saying on March 26 that "this is the first I have heard" of the formal end of the counterterror operation.

Since early 2000, Kadyrov and Russian officials have said repeatedly that the fighting is over, or nearly over. Kadyrov's late father Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov said in December 2002 that it was "drawing to an end." Then Russian President Vladimir Putin said on January 31, 2006, that "we can say that the counterterror operation has been completed." Ramzan Kadyrov boasted on March 19, 2007, that "the counterterror operation as such is over."

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Chechen_Leader_Says_Counterterror_Operations_Will_End_Soon/1562466.html

Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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