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Putin Sets New Strategy to Fight Caucasus Insurgency

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced a new plan to stabilize the volatile North Caucasus region.

The strategy centers on social and economic policies designed to weaken the region's Islamist insurgency.

Speaking in the town of Kislovodsk, Mr. Putin urged local leaders to attract private investment to the North Caucasus. He said any investor should be treated as "a family member."

The Russian leader also called on local officials to reduce unemployment, which has helped drive young people into the insurgency. Rampant corruption has also plagued the region.

Deadly attacks occur almost daily in the mainly-Muslim North Caucasus republics, including Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

A soldier was killed and two policemen were wounded when they came under fire in Chechnya's Vedeno district on Monday.

In Dagestan, a policeman and a local resident died from gunshot wounds sustained in an ambush of a police convoy on Monday.

In a separate incident in Dagestan Monday, a policeman was shot and killed in the city of Khasavyurt.

Two policemen were killed and at least four wounded Sunday when an Interior Ministry convoy was attacked in Ingushetia.

And a policeman was shot and killed Monday in Kabardino-Balkaria, another North Caucasus republic.

Militants from the North Caucasus were also blamed for the March suicide bombings on the Moscow subway system.

Meanwhile, the head of the Memorial human rights group has been charged with libel for accusing Chechnya's pro-Moscow president, Ramzan Kadyrov, of murder, torture and kidnapping.

Moscow police filed the charges against Oleg Orlov on Tuesday despite the fact that Kadyrov dropped a libel suit against him in February.

Orlov had alleged that Kadyrov was responsible for last July's murder of Chechnya-based Memorial activist Natalia Estemirova by fostering an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity in the republic.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.