Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov vowed on January 22 that all of the rebels currently located in Chechnya will be eliminated by the end of the winter, Kavazky Uzel reported on January 23. “I am certain that this winter will become, for those who continue to run around with weapons, committing serious crimes, the last in their lives,” Kadyrov told journalists in Grozny. He said that 99 percent of the militants have already been killed or put down their weapons in the course of the republic’s amnesty. “At the current time, there are running around the mountains several dozens of people who have stained themselves with blood, and cut themselves off from the path to return to a peaceful life. Dokku Umarov and his accomplices remain at large. But the operation to find them doesn’t stop for even a single day, and there is no place for them on the territory of the Chechen Republic.”
Kadyrov also said that the Chechen police are conducting the main operations against the rebels. “It was significantly tougher for employees of the Chechen law-enforcement bodies to fight the illegal armed formations than servicemen from regions of Russia,” he said. “After all, a policeman or serviceman coming from whatever oblast leaves when his tour of duty ends, and none of the members of the NVFs [illegal armed formations] know anything about him. But the local police must engage in open combat each day, fully realizing that the militants know him and his family … But not one of the policemen either froze or paused. They protected Russia and Chechnya from international terrorism, which put for itself the aim of tearing down Russia, bringing it to its knees.” Kadyrov added that the Chechen police officers deserve “the grandest possible monument as defenders of the Russian motherland.”
During a ceremony on January 19 marking the 286th anniversary of the formation of the Russian prosecutor’s office, Kadyrov called the remaining rebels in Chechnya “a small group of bandits who still continue to deliver treacherous blows to the back,” the Rosbalt News Agency reported. He praised the Chechen prosecutor’s office for its role in fighting the “illegal armed formations,” stating that the republic’s prosecutors had made weighty contribution to the “common victory” over “international terrorists” who tried “to use Chechnya as a “training ground for the collapse of Russia.”
As Kavkazky Uzel correspondent Sultan Abubakarov noted on January 23, the Chechen authorities have repeatedly proclaimed the arrival of a “final and irrevocable” peace in Chechnya and a complete victory over the rebels, yet shootouts between security forces and rebels and rebel attacks on law-enforcement personnel and federal servicemen occur almost daily. Indeed, in two separate incidents on January 24, a bomb blast and an ambush left one policeman dead and an army serviceman injured. A Chechen police spokesman told Itar-Tass that an infantry mine went off during a search operation three kilometers from the settlement of Avtury, wounding an Interior Troops serviceman. Meanwhile, unknown attackers fired on a police car in Grozny’s Zavodsky district, wounding two policemen, one of whom later died. On January 20, two federal Interior Ministry servicemen were killed near the village of Niki-Khita in Chechnya’s Kurchaloev district, Prague Watchdog reported.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on January 23 that trips by foreign journalists to Chechnya are still unsafe despite improvements in the region, RIA Novosti reported. “Despite striking changes in Chechnya and in the North Caucasus on the whole, there nevertheless remain certain [criminals]… who are attempting to turn back the pages of history,” he said. “They will certainly fail, but they can cause a lot of damage. Lavrov was responding to a question at a press conference in Moscow as to why entry to Chechnya for foreign media representatives was still not permitted. “We are responsible to a great degree,” Lavrov said. “One cannot go there without [armed] guards.”