Russia Out of Chechnya: Another Phony Withdrawal

Some Restrictions May Be Lifted, Some Troops May Leave

by Jason Ditz, March 27, 2009

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today ordered authorities to move toward ending the 10 year long anti-terror operation in Chechnya. The move comes as local leader Ramzan Kadyrov declared “we have completely rooted out terrorism.”

At least that’s the official line. In reality military sources say that of the 50,000 troops in place, only about 20,000 “might” withdraw if the official state of war is ended. In this regard the Russian government seems to be taking a page out of President Obama’s book – declaring the end of a war by withdrawing only a fraction of the overall fighting force. In reality, the troop cut is likely driven by budget concerns more than the reality on the ground.

Yet President Medvedev added that given the “improved security,” it was time to reconsider the “legal regime” currently in force in Chechnya. More so than the pullout of less than half of the Russian occupation force, this might actually have some tangible benefits to the lives of the average Chechens, who currently live under harsh restrictions to movement and the constant threat of detention. Medvedev insists that any moves potentially taken would not prevent his government from “consistently and resolutely” fighting against terrorism.

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