Russia

Fighting goes on in Chechnya

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Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus, January 11 -- Twelve Russian soldiers and six Chechen fighters died in various clashes in Chechnya in recent days.
According to Chechen law enforcement agencies, Russian units used long-range artillery to shell a group of fifteen Chechen fighters in a forest near the village of Bamut in the Achkhoi-Martan district on Thursday. Four Chechen fighters were killed and seven wounded. The remaining fighters escaped from the shelled area taking their wounded with them.

Another part of the Chechen Republic, the Vedeno district, experienced a restless night as well. Eight targeted checks were carried out in the village of Elistanzhi only. During an inspection in one of the houses in the village, Russian soldiers encountered armed resistance. In the ensuing clash the soldiers killed two fighters.

During the past night members of the Chechen resistance carried out a number of operations against federal troops in various parts of the republic. The fighters blew up five military vehicles. Altogether twelve Russian soldiers and policemen were killed.

In the evening in the Avtury village in the Shalinskoi district, an UAZ jeep was blown up by a fugas mine planted by Chechen fighters. The jeep was carrying Russian policemen dispatched to Chechnya from the Kemerovskaya region in Siberia. As a result of the massive detonation one of the policemen died and several others were wounded.

The above is just a common report from Chechen law enforcement agencies. Such numbers have been nothing new in Chechnya already for the fourth year of the conflict. People got used to the fact that shooting is going on and they might be accidentally killed. Casualties ceased to be perceived as tragedy and the numbers of the dead are just statistics.

Despite beliefs that "every war is ended by peace", in several years of fighting in the republic the Russian military was unable either to crush the Chechen resistance or to come closer to peace. And this situation may protract indefinitely. Like before, the Russian leadership do not want to see Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov at the negotiating table.

The Chechen war, which claims thousands of young lives on both the Chechen and Russian sides, has numerous supporters, mostly among Russian generals, says Chechen historian Murad Nashkhoyev. Many generals have built their careers on the Chechen war and then went into politics. One of them even wants to run for president of the republic, he says. According to him precisely these people utilize the war as a springboard to get on top in politics.

The lowest army ranks collect "tolls" on roads, the mid-level ranks capture people and release them for money, and generals get their dividends as well. As long as these practices continue there will be no peace in the republic, notes the historian.

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