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Chechen Commander Denies Responsibility For Sweep

24 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Sulim Yamadaev, whose Eastern Battalion has been accused of launching the 4 June sweep operation in the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya in which one person was killed and 11 detained, has claimed that his forces were not responsible for those reprisals, according to on 23 June.

Yamadaev explained that his men stopped in Borozdinovskaya to bury the father of one of them, who had been killed by unidentified "militants." Yamadaev said he personally has never set foot in the village.

Yamadaev's brother, Ruslan, who represents Chechnya in the Russian State Duma, told Interfax on 23 June that the accusations levelled against the Eastern Battalion are part of a campaign to "tar the reputation of the combined federal forces in general and the Eastern and Western battalions in particular." He added that unnamed "illegal leaders of armed groups" are devoting considerable time and resources to trying to force the two battalions to halt their ongoing sweep operations against Chechen militants.

Vladimir Kalita, who is deputy military prosecutor for the United Army Group in the North Caucasus, told ITAR-TASS on 23 June that 30 of his subordinates are engaged in investigating the circumstances of the Borozdinovskaya sweep operation. He said weapons have been confiscated from members of the Eastern Battalion, and that all Borozdinovskaya residents, including children, will be questioned.

On 24 June, ITAR-TASS quoted Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov as alleging that the Borozdinovskaya raid was intended to create hostility between the people of Chechnya and Daghestan. Kadyrov's own security force has launched similar raids on in Daghestan in recent months, compounding tensions between the two republics.

Kadyrov argued that Russian federal forces in Chechnya should confine themselves to "protecting the state from global enemies" and should not engage in the search for "criminals."

Gadzhi Makhachev, who represents Daghestan in the Russian State Duma, was quoted on 24 June by "Nezavisimaya gazeta" as deploring the Daghestan State Council's delay in reacting to the exodus of villagers from Borozdinovskaya to Daghestan. "We managed only with difficulty" to restrain some 3,000 young men who planned to march on Chechnya, apparently with the aim of retribution, he said.

Makhachev advocated liquidating both the Eastern and Western battalions. Saygidpasha Umakhanov, the controversial mayor of Khasavyurt in northern Daghestan, similarly warned that local villagers, especially those populated by Dargins (the second-largest ethnic group in Daghestan), have at their disposal large quantities of weaponry and could launch cross-border raids on Chechen targets.

See also:

Does Outrage Over Borozdinovskaya Sweep Presage Change Of Russian Tactics?

Scandal Brews Over Raid In Chechnya

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