Russia: July 19, 2002


Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told journalists in Oslo that excess Federal troops will be removed from Chechnya before the end of the year. The workload is increasingly being shifted onto special and police units. The Russian defense minister declared that the rebels can no longer carry out the large-scale subversive acts which they were capable of before, since they no longer having a viable command and control system. 

A special federal operation in Chechnya on 17 July resulted in the elimination of field commander Umarov, who was the emir (chief) of the Avtury village in the Shali district. Radio intercepts also indicated that a considerable number of the local rebel leaders in the Avtury village was also eliminated. Field commander Abuazidov, whose detachment comprises 15 to 20 rebels, has already been appointed Umarov's successor.

Meanwhile, a new rebel group comprising 15 to 20 fighters had arrived in Chechnya from Georgia's Pankisi gorge and were hiding in a forest near the Nikhaloi village in the Shatoi district. Apparently they were tasked to attack units of the 219th Motorized Rifle Regiment or an Interior Ministry formation stationed in the district.- Adam Geibel


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