Russia: May 27, 2002

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Konstantin Totsky, director of the Russian Federal Border Guards Service told the press on 27 May that they were stepping up protection of the Georgian border, particularly on the Chechen stretch.  Conscripts whose service time has ended will be replaced by 1,200 men from other parts of the country, while 750- paratroopers were set up as a reserve force. Small groups of rebel are using mountain paths of the Dagestani autonomous republic to get to Chechnya from Georgia. According to reconnaissance reports, the rebels tried to use the Sarmagele-Khushet pass to get to the villages of Sagada and Agavali for the first time last week. Unarmed guerillas with all needed documents and moving in groups of two to four were posing as local residents. Rebel warlord Ruslan Gelayev's people were appearing in Dagestani districts bordering on Chechnya, recruiting youths to serve in extremist groups, as well as hiring people as guides through mountains. Both the Shatoi and Shadoi districts were used by guerillas as transit areas and arms caches, as well as hiding places from aviation strikes in local mountain caves. 

Meanwhile, American special forces began their program. Georgia's Chief-of-Staff Dzhoni Pirtskhalaishvili told the press that about 100 Georgian officers were taking part in a 10-week command post exercise in the framework of the U.S. Train and Equip program. About 70 officers come from the Defense Ministry, and the others are from the Interior Ministry and border guards. - Adam Geibel

A senior Russian general said that the Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev may still be alive. Rebels have denied recent army reports that Basayev is dead, but nothing has been heard from Basayev for a while. 

 

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