RealNews

Russia to Cut Back Troops in Chechnya

Claiming that the strife-torn republic of Chechnya is growing more stable in the weeks before a key referendum, Russian authorities announced Monday that modest troop withdrawals will start this week. But violent clashes with separatist rebels showed no letup. Security guards battled with gunmen in a weekend clash involving the motorcade of Akhmad Kadyrov, chief of the Moscow-backed administration, Russian media reported. Authorities released conflicting accounts of the battle. Some said that Kadyrov was present and that eight people — four security men, three local policemen and one gunman — were killed. Others said that Kadyrov was not in the motorcade and that although four of his bodyguards were injured, no one died. Gen. Anatoly V. Kvashnin, chief of Russia’s general staff, told reporters in Grozny, the Chechen capital, that some Russian army units will begin to withdraw from Chechnya on Wednesday. About 1,000 soldiers are due to pull out this month without being replaced by fresh troops, authorities said. By official count, about 80,000 troops and special police are stationed in Chechnya, although independent analysts estimate the figure at up to 100,000. Full Story

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