Writing in the no. 5 (2001) issue of Obshchaya gazeta, journalist Bakhtiyar Akhmedkhanov reported that FSB operatives who, as a result of President Putin’s recent decree, have been sent from all over Russia to district FSB headquarters located in Chechnya, are experiencing difficulties. “The work of the special services,” Akhmedkhanov notes, “is founded on contacts with the populace–it is easy to imagine the level of relations enjoyed by an [FSB] operative from Tula or Orel with Chechens who have become embittered over the endless mopping-up operations [conducted by the Russian military and police].” Underscoring the same problem, the online daily Gazeta.ru has concluded that the Russian secret services in Chechnya have become “demoralized.” In addition to problems connected with working with the local populace, the FSB is having major difficulties in coordinating its efforts, at all levels, with the Ministry of Defense and the MVD (Gazeta.ru, February 1).
On February 1, the director of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, announced that there were 3,500 more Chechen rebels active in Chechnya than had previously been reported. “It has already become evident,” Gazeta.ru commented tongue in cheek, “that by May 15–the date by which Patrushev is scheduled to have ‘rubbed out’ all the remaining rebels in Chechnya–he will not have coped with this task.” “There are not less than 5,000 [rebels] there,” Patrushev informed journalists in Moscow. But what about the fact that top-ranking Russian military spokesmen as well as presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky have over the past half year been citing the figure of 1,500 rebels active in Chechnya? “Patrushev,” Gazeta.ru reported, “elegantly divided the five thousand rebels he had discovered into ‘implacable’ rebels and others. The former, of course, numbered 1,500” (Gazeta.ru, February 1).