Russia to end counter-terrorist operations in Chechnya

March 31st, 2009 - 11:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, March 31 (RIA Novosti) Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee Tuesday decided to end its operations in Chechnya, the North Caucasus republic’s president said.
The committee, at a meeting here, decided to formally end the campaign and begin the withdrawal of around 20,000 Russian troops from the republic.

Speaking after the meeting, Chechnya President Ramzan Kadyrov told reporters: “The situation in the Chechen republic was thoroughly discussed, as well as all possible consequences - economic, political and social - of ending the counter-terrorism operation.”

“Conference participants believe it is time the restrictions were lifted,” he said.

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), said earlier in the day that at least 67 militants have been killed and 233 detained in special operations in the North Caucasus since the beginning of this year.

Russia started its anti-terrorism campaign in Chechnya in September 1999, deploying special police units, carrying out frequent police sweeps, and increasing security at key facilities.

Although the active phase of the anti-terrorism campaign officially ended in 2001, periodic bombings and clashes between militants and federal troops still disrupt Chechnya and nearby regions, particularly Daghestan and Ingushetia.

Kadyrov said: “There are no objective reasons that would hinder the official recognition of the fact that the goals of the counter-terrorist operation have been achieved, and tasks carried out.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev instructed Bortnikov March 27 to consider ending the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya.

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