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Temporary Chechen Cease-Fire Ends

23 February 2005 -- A temporary cease-fire called by Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov expired today, the 61st anniversary of the deportation of Chechens to the barren steppes of then-Soviet Central Asia.

A rebel envoy, Akhmed Zakaev, said that the cease-fire had held.

Maskhadov had ordered his fighters to observe a cease-fire through yesterday, the eve of the anniversary.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials reject Maskhadov, calling him an international terrorist.

Russian officials dismissed the cease-fire call as a publicity stunt and maintained that rebels kept up their attacks. The Russian military said nine servicemen were killed in a rebel attack on the night of 21 February.