The Russian authorities continue to assert that the conflict in Chechnya is being “normalized” and demilitarized; that is, they claim the conflict is being turned into a police operation rather than a war. But according to an August 12 report in Nezavisimaya gazeta, the number of construction specialists of the Russian armed services serving in Chechnya is continuing to grow. Moreover, these builders are working on construction projects that would seem to make sense only if a large number of Russian troops are planning a long stay in the republic.
Lieutenant General Anatoly Grebeniuk told correspondent Vladimir Mukhin of Nezavisimaya gazeta that some 4,000 military construction workers, of whom 2,500 are uniformed troops, are presently deployed in Chechnya. In the near future, he said, their number is to increase to 6,000–a 50 percent increase.
In addition to repairing fortifications along the border with Georgia, the construction troops have been ordered to finish the building of military infrastructure in Chechnya for the long term use of the 42nd motorized rifle division and the 46th brigade of interior troops. The facilities to be built include warehouses, garages, repair shops, refueling stations, telegraphic communications systems, and command and control systems. Also needed are more barracks for volunteer “contract” soldiers.