The October 16 issue of the online daily Gazeta.ru carried a report by journalist Elena Vrantseva entitled, “The State Duma Is Beginning a War in Chechnya.” On that day, Vrantseva wrote, the Duma adopted amendments to a draft law entitled “Concerning Veterans,” in which “it is officially recognized that veterans of Chechnya are veterans of a [real] war.” According to Valery Ryaguzov, a consultant to the Duma’s committee on veterans, the law, which he confidently predicted would pass, also deems Dagestan and Ingushetia to be zones where a war is occurring.
In the coming days, the Gazeta.ru account continued, the Duma is also scheduled to examine proposed amendments to the law “On the Struggle with Terrorism” which will serve to strengthen and toughen the powers of Russian military units involved in the counterterrorist operation in Chechnya. Sources in the Duma’s committee on security informed Gazeta.ru that “up until now the internal troops [of the MVD] and the forces of the Ministry of Defense have had different rights and obligations in the use of weapons, armor and physical force. With the adoption of these amendments, their obligations will become the same. That is, the army can then apply in Chechnya its own physical force and other might just as the soldiers of the internal troops presently do, a change which will in essence give to the Chechen operation the juridical status of war.”