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Grozny Marks 2005; Putin Recalls 'Dramatic' Year

1 January 2005 -- More than 1,000 residents of Chechnya's war-ravaged capital celebrated New Year's today, dancing and singing around a holiday tree erected in the city center.

The festivities took place in a square surrounded by apartment buildings devastated by nearly a decade of war between Russian federal forces and separatist fighters.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered televised New Year's greetings, calling on Russians in each of the country's 11 time zones to remember what he called a "dramatic" year.

Russia saw a sharp rise in terrorist attacks in 2004, most notably the Beslan hostage siege, which ended with the deaths of more than 330 people, many of them children.

Many of the attacks, including the siege, were committed by militants who claimed ties to Chechnya's war for independence.


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