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MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia lifted at midnight (2000 GMT) the tight security regime that has been in force in Chechnya for the past decade, ITAR-TASS news agency has quoted security officials as saying.

"This decision aims to create conditions to further normalize the situation in the region, to restore and develop its economic and social infrastructure," the agency quoted Russia's Antiterrorist Committee as saying in a statement.

Restrictions such as curfews, roadblocks, periodic searches, and easier detention rules were imposed in Chechnya in 1999 when Russia sent troops to the region to end its short-lived independence, won in an earlier war with Moscow.