Russia: June 25, 2002


Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov told a 25 June news conference that Federal troops had thwarted a Chechen rebel plan to temporarily (from one to seven days) seize key districts in Grozny, with diversions in Gudermes and Argun. During a preemptive raid, Russian troops killed dozens of rebels from Maskhadov's entourage and found documents indicating routes of advancing and retreat, as well as maps of buildings to be seized. The Russians claimed that the rebels were actually rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov's staff and that about 1,000 rebels were supposed to take part in the operation (which was due to kick off on the 25th).

The documents also illuminated differences among the militants in Chechnya. One decree dismissed "vice-president of the Chechen republic of Ichkeria" Vakha Arsayev for "practically not fulfilling his duties and not taking an active part in the holy jihad." The other decree had Shamil Basayev "removed from his post of the commander of the eastern front" because "the actions of some commanders of the fronts, in particular of Shamil Basayev, inflict an irreparable damage on our struggle - these actions alienate and disunite us." Ivanov also told the press that the documents confirmed, without any doubt, a direct link from Maskhadov to international extremists and financial sources abroad. - Adam Geibel


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