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Putin Orders Deployment of Additional Troops to Chechnya - 2004-05-11

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Chechnya early Tuesday, two days after pro-Moscow Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov was assassinated in Grozny. On his return to Moscow, he ordered the deployment of additional troops in the separatist region.

President Putin revealed his quick trip to Chechnya during his cabinet meeting in Moscow. He ordered his acting prime minister and interior minister to increase troop presence in the region by more than 1,000.

Mr. Putin says the additional troops were requested by Chechnya's interior ministry. He also says he has ordered Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to form a government commission that would be sent to Chechnya in the coming days.

The Russian president said the death of Mr. Kadyrov will not stop the reconstruction of Chechnya.

Mr. Putin says the process [of reconstruction] is so fundamental it is impossible to reverse. He also says that a nation with leaders like the late Mr. Kadyrov deserves respect.

While in Chechnya, President Putin presented Mr. Kadyrov's family with a medal of honor for, what he called, his brave and courageous service.

Since the mid 1990s, Chechnya has been at war with Russia or locked in guerrilla-style fighting with Russian forces. Many analysts fear that the assassination of Mr. Kadyrov Sunday, may plunge the region into lawlessness, as powerful clans fight for political influence ahead of new elections.

The official date of the election has not been announced, but Russian media speculate it is likely to be held on the first Sunday of September.

Meanwhile, acting Chechen President Sergei Abramov has said he will continue the policies of the late Mr. Kadyrov.