Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 27

The Combined Group of Russian Forces based in Chechnya, which presently numbers more than 80,000 troops, is to be beefed up still further. On September 18, Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Boris Gryzlov announced: “A decision has been taken to create a formation of special forces [spetsnaz] within the framework of the internal troops [of the MVD]. The initial stage of their formation will be completed by November of this year.” Two new detachments of internal troop spetsnaz will then strengthen the present Combined Group of Forces stationed in Chechnya (Lenta.ru, September 18).

On September 17, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the pro-Moscow official Mufti of Chechnya Akhmad-Haji Shamaev and the chairman of the Chechen Anti-War Congress, Salambek Maigov, had issued a joint appeal to the citizens of the Chechen Republic, containing two key points: (1) “a firm conviction that the Russian troops cannot remain in the republic” and a declaration that (2) “only the beginning of negotiations between the opposed sides can bring us to the long-awaited peace.” The overt support of the official mufti of Chechnya for peace negotiations, journalist Il’ya Maksakov underlined, was a significant political development.