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Russia: Putin Travels To Chechnya To Visit Troops

Grozny, 20 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian acting President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Chechnya on Monday, arriving at Grozny's northern airport aboard a Sukhoi-27 fighter bomber. Putin met with military commanders and also met with a regiment of paratroopers before they returned to their base. He said for there are no plans to remove many troops from Chechnya as Russian forces still faced problems there. Putin visited Chechnya on 31 December, hours after Boris Yeltsin resigned from office and made Putin acting president. Putin's visit Monday comes six days ahead of Russia's presidential election. Russian troops guarding Chechnya's borders with the Russian republics of Daghestan and Ingushetia have been strengthened in anticipation of provocations ahead of Sunday's elections. Additional Russian troops also have been moved to Chechnya's border with Georgia.