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Monday, 18 December, 2000, 17:27 GMT
Russia 'starving Chechnya of funds'
Russian soldiers patrolling in Grozny's central market
Russian soldiers patrolling in Grozny's central market
The leader of the pro-Russian government in Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, has complained that Moscow is not providing financial support for the beleaguered Caucasus republic.

Mr Kadyrov was speaking after an upsurge of violence at the weekend, including a rebel attack on the mayor's office in the Chechen capital, Grozny, in which four people were killed.

Moscow has no idea what is going on here

Akhmad Kadyrov
Mr Kadyrov told the French news agency AFP that the war in Chechnya was not over.

"Moscow has no idea what is going on here," he said.

"Leaders need moral and financial support to achieve something, but we have not received one rouble for reconstruction or compensation for the war and people are disillusioned."

Grozny fighting

The Mayor of Grozny, Bislan Gantamirov, accused the Russian authorities of not providing sufficient troops to make Chechnya safe. He was responding to the rebel attack on his office in Grozny, in which two rebels and two of his bodyguards were killed.

Ruins of Grozny
Rebels find plenty of cover in Grozny

A Chechen government official quoted by the Associated Press news agency said the rebels had killed 19 Russian soldiers in separate hit-and-run attacks in the past 24 hours.

Russian troops sealed off the eastern part of Grozny on Monday and conducted house-to-house searches.

According to Mr Gantamirov, the rebels "move around the capital very easily".

"In Grozny, there are a few thousand soldiers, but it seems like there are even more rebel fighters," he told Russian RTR state-run television.

Grozny's warren of devastated buildings provides plenty of cover for the separatist guerrillas, who have been battling Russian forces since Moscow launched a new military campaign in the republic in October last year.

Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky blamed the recent upsurge in rebel attacks on Mr Kadyrov's lack of control in the republic.

"Alas, he does not have the influence that we had hoped for," he said.

Moscow estimates that between 300 and 500 rebels operate throughout Grozny.

Rebel leader 'killed'

In another development, Mr Yastrzhembsky said Shirvani Basayev, brother of Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, had been killed by Russian special forces at the weekend. Chechen rebel leaders have denied the report.

Pro-Moscow Chechen officials: Kadyrov (left) and Gantamirov (right)
Pro-Moscow Chechen officials: Kadyrov (left) and Gantamirov (right)

Shamil Basayev played a leading role in the Chechen resistance during the 1994-96 war.

The President of neighbouring Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, admitted on Monday that hundreds of Chechen fighters were living in his country. But he rejected Moscow's proposal of carrying out joint police operations.

"Hundreds of Georgians, who are ethnic Chechens, have taken part in the war against federal troops in Chechnya," he said.

"I do not know if they are rebels or not but they have now returned home."

Russia accuses Georgia of offering a safe haven for Chechen rebels.

But Mr Shevardnadze said he could not allow Russian troops to carry out "punitive operations on Georgian territory," because that would risk triggering "clashes with the local population".

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See also:

09 Dec 00 | Europe
Chechnya car bomb 'kills 16'
20 Nov 00 | Europe
Putin: Military not up to it
29 Nov 00 | Europe
Eyewitness: Chechnya's bitter war
06 Nov 00 | Media reports
Nine lives of Moscow's man in Chechnya
01 Oct 00 | Europe
Analysis: Chechnya one year on
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