January 15, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee says 546 armed militants in Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus have surrendered to authorities as part of a governmental amnesty expiring today.
The committee said the militants turned in a large amount of weapons, including rifles, grenade-launchers, mines, and homemade bombs.
In a telephone interview to RFE/RL from London, the foreign minister of Chechnya's separatist government, Ahmed Zakaev, called the announcement "propaganda."
"Nobody -- neither the official Chechen authorities, nor anybody from the North Caucasus resistance, nor even the average fighters -- have ever had any illusions about this amnesty," Zakaev said. "And the numbers claimed by the official Russian authorities have nothing to do with reality and could not have."
Russian authorities announced the amnesty following the killing of Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev in July 2006.
(with material from Interfax, ITAR-TASS)
The aftermath of a December 2002 Chechen resistance attack on the main government building in Grozny (epa)
The fighting in Chechnya
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