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Chechnya: Kadyrov Says Chechens Should Control Internal Security

Moscow, 10 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen President-elect Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov said today in Moscow that he will ask as soon as possible for Russian troops to withdraw from Chechnya and turn internal security over to his own forces. "As soon as I feel that we are strong enough, I mean the Chechen Interior Ministry, as soon as it has been put in place and is fully staffed, I will ask the [Russian federal] troops to withdraw and those who will remain here on a permanent basis to be given permanent quarters," Kadyrov said.

The Kremlin has assigned responsibility for security operations in Chechnya to the Russian Interior Ministry. These troops, military intelligence units, and federal secret services also are involved along with local Interior Ministry troops. Kadyrov said coordination among these forces is dangerously flawed.

Kadyrov became Chechnya's president-elect on 5 October in a much-criticized election.

Deadly skirmishes between Chechen separatists and Russian forces continue. Russian aircraft and artillery today shelled suspected rebel bases in five districts across Chechnya.

An official in the Kremlin-backed Chechen administration said, speaking on condition of anonymity, that over the last 24 hours five Russian soldiers were killed and 11 wounded in 19 separatist attacks.