Ilya Maksakov, a journalist who covers the war for Nezavisimaya gazeta, recently criticized the military’s proposed plan to establish 200 garrisons in a majority of the towns and villages of the Chechen Republic. The soldiers manning these garrisons, he warned, would represent sitting ducks for the inhabitants of “population points swarming with rebels.” Even a company (200 men) would be unlikely to be able to hold a settlement for long, while, in a large village, “no less than a battalion (1,000 men)” might prove necessary. That would suggest that perhaps as many as 200,000 soldiers–nearly four times the current number–might prove necessary. Maksakov termed the garrison plan “a dead-end” (Nezavisimaya gazeta, December 27).
The web site Grani.ru has reported that President Putin’s plan to station the Forty-sixth Special Purpose Brigade of the MVD Internal Troops in Chechnya on a permanent basis was running into trouble. “According to the testimony of a group of deputies in the State Duma [Putin’s decree of 28 August] is not being carried out. The question of financing the brigade has not been resolved.” The web site reported further that the brigade is significantly understaffed and must make do with outdated equipment: Its armored transport carriers, for example, were produced in 1971, while its PT-76 tanks were manufactured in 1952–the turrets of the tanks are no longer in working order (Grani.ru, December 20).