Support: June 10, 2002

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Western planners enamored by light armored vehicles might want to follow the continuing adventures of Chechnya's rebel mine experts. On 6 June 2002, the North Caucasus unified federal headquarters established a service in charge of troops' protection from mines, on the order of Armed Forces Chief-of- Staff Anatoly Kvashnin. Specialists of the Interior and Defense Ministries, Interior Ministry troops, Federal Security Service, Federal Border Guard Service and federal railway troops service form part of the service. Losses could also be reduced without any assistance from sappers, simply because many drivers leave without sanctions and follow unchecked routes. That same day, elite police officers of the Buryatian autonomous republic Interior Ministry prevented a large-scale terrorist act in Chechnya's Shali district, when they detained a Volga car driven by first-class invalid Magomed Zagolayev near the Belgatoi village. When searching the car, they found a powerful explosive device made from two F-1 grenades, RGN grenades, 1kg of plastic explosives, an 122mm artillery shell, three electric detonators and a clockwork mechanism.  The police also confiscated an assault rifle and six magazines from the detainee, as well as a notebook with names of people and numbers of car plates belonging to residents of the village who cooperate with federal authorities. They theorized that Zagolayev a kamikaze driver about to carry out a terrorist act. 

The rebels have been staging one or two blasts a day lately, mainly causing casualties among Interior Ministry servicemen and policemen. Two Russian servicemen were killed and three wounded when their UAZ vehicle hit a radio-controlled explosive device on the outskirts of Chechen district center Shali on the 6th. An engineering reconnaissance unit engaged in planned inspection of Grozny's Leninsky district lost a sapper on the spot from a radio-controlled pipe bomb blast on the 6th. The measures taken to detain demolition men have been fruitless. Most landmines are planted in the district by the group under field commander Shuvayev (a native of Kazakhstan). On the 5th, a 42nd Motorized Rifle Division sapper was killed by a radio-controlled landmine blast near the village of Petropavlovskaya in the Grozny rural district, as sappers reconnoitering the road section approached it. On the 4th, another radio-controlled landmine went off in the outskirts of the Shatoi village. It damaged a Shatoi military commandant's office light armored prime mover (MTLB) that carried officers of the local police department returning from a mission. 
Major Selensky and Senior Sergeants Kaplunov, Semiokin and Mishin were wounded and sent to the hospital, but their lives were soon out of danger. 

The rebels blasted combat and civilian vehicles six times in the Kurchaloi and Vedeno districts of Chechnya from 27 Mayto 2 June. Every day, Federal engineering units check up to 800km of roads in Chechnya for explosive devices planted by extremists, and federals engaged in search operations confiscated some 70kg of explosives, 30 AT and AP mines, along with about 200 shells of various calibers. The rebels planted a total of 40 landmines and makeshift explosive devices during that week, while Russian engineering and reconnaissance patrols defused 29 of them. Federal forces have carried out five special operations since the 5th, in the Achkhoi-Martan, Vedeno, Shali and Nozhai-Yurt districts. Units engaged in the operations seized 45 pieces of firearms, 65 artillery shells, 31 mines, 19 grenade launchers, 292 hand grenades and four kilograms of explosives. In addition, three landmines were defused. 

The Kremlin lacks the funds to develop Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs), even though they have been developing strong ties with the South African defense industry - who currently have the most experience with these types of vehicles. To date, the Germans have deployed Mine-Protected "Dingos" to Kosovo while the United States continues to experiment with different designs at a slow pace. - Adam Geibel


 


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