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Another Contingent of Russian Soldiers Departs Chechnya

A train carrying Russian soldiers and military hardware pulled out of war-ravaged Chechnya Monday, the final contingent to leave as part of a planned troops reduction ahead of a constitutional referendum this month. The small withdrawal is part of an intense Kremlin effort to show that security in Chechnya is improving, but fighting persists, as do allegations of abuses by federal troops. Chechen officials said Monday that Russian forces in two armored personnel carriers opened fire on Chechen police in a village in the Grozny suburbs overnight, killing two police. Rezvan Masayev, head of the village administration, said federal forces ignored police attempts to stop them at the entrance to Staraya Sunzha and opened fire when another Chechen police patrol set off alarm rockets. After wounding two police, the Russian soldiers got out of their vehicle and allegedly killed the wounded police, Masayev said. Ilgan Samigulin, head of the local police department, said the soldiers came from Russia’s main Khankala military base near the capital Grozny. “The question is if they ever will be handed over to us,” he said. Russian officials have insisted that all troops who commit crimes against Chechen civilians will face punishment. But the process has been slow-moving and the abuses have alienated even Chechens who do not support the separatists. Full Story

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