Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 39

On October 23, Moltenskoi stated over the state-run ORT television network that “the plan to withdraw troops from Chechnya is being implemented to the full extent.” He emphasized that President Putin’s order concerning a withdrawal from Chechnya would be completed by April 2002. Moltenskoi did not provide precise figures concerning the number of troops to be withdrawn. Moreover, he underscored that “the 42nd Division [of the Russian Ministry of Defense] will stay here. The military commandants’ offices in the Chechen Republic’s towns and villages with their commandant companies and rifle companies composed of the local [pro-Moscow] Chechen youth will continue operating here as well. The Interior Ministry’s [units] will also stay here.” In addition to these units mentioned by Moltenskoi, it seemed clear that FSB personnel and Russian Border Guard detachments would also remain in Chechnya on a “permanent” basis (ORT Television, BBC Monitoring, October 23). Moltenskoi also informed Interfax that “a decision has been taken to increase the number of commandants’ companies from nine to fourteen, which will help to ensure the protection of the [pro-Moscow] heads of administration of the districts” (Interfax-AVN, October 22). Certain Russian units, thus, are, it appears, to be beefed up rather than reduced in size.

The official Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on October 23 that major progress was being made in preparing barracks and other facilities for the 42nd Motor-rifle Division of the Ministry of Defense. An interview was conducted with Colonel General Aleksandr Kosovan of the Construction and Housing Troops of the Defense Ministry. By the beginning of this November, troops of the 42nd Division are to move into new barracks and other facilities at a military city which has been built for them in Shali, southeast of the Chechen capital. Another military city has been completed in the village of Kalinovskya, on the Terek River. Finally, “During the past year, the basic work was completed on a [military] settlement in Borzoi [located in the Chechen mountains]. A regiment is already quartered there…Here, too, there is being organized the quarters of the 14th Border Guard Detachment, which is to take up residence in November.” Obviously, Russia currently has the intention of preserving a significant armed presence in Chechnya over the long haul.