RealNews

Russia Withdraws Chechnya Troops, Suffers Losses

Russia started a pullout of more than 1,000 troops from Chechnya on Wednesday with a fanfare to boost voter confidence ahead of a Kremlin-sponsored referendum, but rebels inflicted new losses on troops and local officials. Reports from the region said six marines were killed and 10 wounded in a gunfight that erupted during an intelligence mission last week, less than a month before the referendum on a new constitution intended to entrench Russian rule in Chechnya. Russian television showed the region’s top commander presenting medals to some of the 370 troops, lined up and ready to depart aboard trains also carrying tanks and heavy equipment. Most had been involved in demining operations. “To your trains, march!” Lieutenant-General Sergei Makarov shouted as the men set off from their base outside Chechnya’s capital Grozny. A brass band played martial music and a banner draped on a carriage read: “Thank you for serving. Bon voyage.” The group was the first of 1,271 servicemen to be withdrawn by mid-March from Chechnya, where Russian forces have been fighting separatists for the better part of a decade. Full Story

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