Russian Operational Forces in Chechnya are reporting renewed counterterrorism operations in Chechnya just days after the Kremlin ordered a halt to them. But Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is denying the reports, saying rebel groups have been disbanded, and international terrorists in his republic have been destroyed.
The press spokesman for Russian Operational Forces in Chechnya, Vladimir Patrin, says the unit's headquarters have noticed activization of illegal armed formations in three Chechen districts - Shali, Shatoi and Vedeno. He says Russian troops have also received information about plans for diversionary and terrorist acts against representatives of Chechnya's executive branch and law enforcement officials.
Patrin says three home-made devices were discovered at a hiding place in the Vedeno district. He says they were ready for use, and very powerful. According to the spokesman, it was determined the bombs were to have been laid along routes where the convoy of the republic's leadership could be expected to travel.
Effort aims to find remaining rebel groups
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and the republic's Interior Ministry denied the reports in statements issued on their respective Web sites. The ministry says there are ongoing efforts to find and detain remaining rebel groups. Mr. Kadyrov says such groups have been disbanded once and for all. He also asks why the media have begun to report news of fighters and of terrorist plans right after the end of counterterrorism operations, if there were no such reports earlier.
But Russian and international news agencies have been reporting regular violence in Chechnya for the past decade, including a rebel attack on federal troops on April 14, just two days before the formal end of counterterrorism operations. That same day, the Interfax News Agency quoted a senior Russian Interior Ministry official in Chechnya, Denis Sugrubov, as saying the agency had thwarted a large scale terrorist act in the Vedeno District after seizing 60 kilograms of explosives. Two hours later, Interfax quoted the head of Vedeno's administration, Shamil Magomayev, as saying Sugrubov's information had nothing to do with reality.
Russia's decade-long counterterrorism regime included curfews, roadblocks, arbitrary arrests and restrictions on journalists and civilian aviation. It was cancelled last week by order of President Dmitri Medvedev. There have been several reports since then of shooting, including artillery fire, between Chechen rebels and security forces.