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Russia To Cut Troops in Chechnya
November 12, 2001

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia (AP) - Most federal troops will be withdrawn from Chechnya by next spring, Russia's top military commander in the breakaway republic reportedly said Monday.

Gen. Gennady Troshev said the withdrawal was part of a plan to reduce the military presence in Chechnya, the Interfax news agency said.

Troops will begin leaving early next year, Troshev said, according to Interfax. Similar troop withdrawals have been announced in the past, but not put into effect.

Troshev said that only units stationed in Chechnya on a permanent basis will remain. Those units are the Defense Ministry's 42nd motor-rifle division and the Interior Ministry's 46th brigade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's strong support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism has earned him a reprieve from Western criticism about alleged human rights violations by Russian troops in Chechnya.

Speaking Monday to armed forces commanders in the Kremlin, Putin said the campaign in Chechnya ``has been correct, on time and well-founded,'' according to Interfax.

Putin called the return to peace ``irreversible,'' and said the federal troops permanently stationed in Chechnya must ``become an important factor in the security of local residents and regional stability.''

Residents of the Chechen capital Grozny found the beheaded body of a 19-year-old Russian conscript, with his arms and legs fractured, at a city dumping ground, the Federal Security Service said Monday.

He and another soldier went missing on Nov. 4 when patroling the city as part of a larger group, the FSB said according to Interfax. Agents said the two were abducted. Three suspects have been detained.

Russian army engineers reported finding and defusing 20 bombs on about 60 miles of rail tracks across Chechnya, ITAR-Tass said.

Russian troops withdrew from Chechnya in humiliation after the 1994-96 war with separatists, then returned two years ago after Chechnya-based militants invaded a neighboring Russian region, and after apartment bombings around Russia that killed more than 300 people and were blamed on Chechens.

Though Moscow claims to control most of Chechnya, armed clashes are frequent in the tiny southern republic.

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