Russia: May 21, 2002


Despite predictions of a renewed rebel offensive in Chechnya by mid-May, a spokesman for the unified federal headquarters told Interfax- Military News Agency on 20 May that Chechen rebel groups stepped down their activities and were mainly occupied with mine warfare. The rebels have blown up 17 armored vehicles in Chechnya since 13 May, while federal sappers defused about 150 explosive devices (including 11 powerful landmines) in the same week.

He attributed this to the recent elimination of several key rebel leaders and a drop in foreign funding (although "recent supplies of financial aid from abroad have been dispatched by several radical Muslim extremist organizations"). These factors have disrupted the rebels' synchronization matrix for Spring 2002, so "bandit gang leaders are making attempts at consolidating operations of scattered rebel groups."

The unified federal headquarters also claimed that seven rebel groups have obtained an unnamed poisonous substance, which is to be sprayed over printing products and essential commodities. Another report alleged that one group of five rebels dressed in Russian military uniform and specializing in robberies resumed its activities in Chechnya, breaking into Lechi Alibekov's house in the Shali district's Germenchuk village overnight 19 May. They spoke Russian with an obvious Chechen accent, demanding valuables and money.

Eleven Russian special operations took place in the town of Argun and the Shali, Naurskaya, Nadterechny, Nozhai-Yurt, Shali and Shelkovskaya districts on the 19th. Six rebels were killed and 33 suspected rebels were detained. Federal troops found 12 caches with arms, ammo, foodstuffs and equipment. They confiscated 27 small-armss, 47 artillery and 59 mortar shells, 38 grenade launchers, 137 hand grenades, 5.9kg of explosives and 15,600 small-arms cartridges. They also destroyed 11 illegal oil refineries (which are about the size of alcohol stills). 

According to the North Caucasus Joint Federal Force headquarters, 720 rebels were killed in Chechnya this year and roughly 4,000 people were arrested for involvement in illegal armed groups. - Adam Geibel

Police raided a rebel camp in Dagestan and arrested four men. Also seized were weapons, munitions, radical Islamic literature and maps of army bases. The men admitted they were paid $800-1,000 a month to serve with the Chechen rebels. The arrested men are believed involved with the May 9th terror attack in Russia. The death toll for this attack has risen to 43.

Russia's military budget this year is $9.7 billion. This is a drop of over 90 percent from 12 years ago, when the Soviet Union still existed. Vast quantities of equipment and bases are in bad repair. It's become quite common for officers and troops to sell weapons and equipment to make extra money. The current US defense budget is a little over $300 billion a year.


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