PUTIN CONGRATULATES ELITE INTERIOR TROOPS DIVISION ON 90TH ANNIVERSARY

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MOSCOW, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin sent a greeting telegram to servicemen and veterans of the Russian Interior Troops' independent operational division in connection with the unit's 80th anniversary, the Kremlin press service told RIA Novosti on Saturday.

Among other things, the telegram says:

"Your division has gone a glorious way marked by exploits of several generations of soldiers and officers - valiant defenders of our Motherland. They have on numerous occasions displayed courage and self-sacrifice in safeguarding the interests of the state and its citizens as well as the country's territorial integrity. In performance of their duty they have invariably demonstrated very high professional skills and excellent standard of training.

Today, the division's personnel is successfully carrying out the tasks assigned to the unit in the framework of the ongoing counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus. Leading the battle against crime, you honorably do the country an invaluable service.

I am certain that you will continue to safeguard the law and protect public order and safety".

On its 80th anniversary, the independent division of the Russian Interior Troops was awarded the Interior Minister's Pendant.

A special ceremony took place at the division's headquarters in the Moscow Region to mark the unit's 80th anniversary.

Russia's Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev attended the celebratory events. He handed over the honorary Pendant to the division's commander Sergei Melikov and read out President Putin's greeting message to the unit's personnel.

The Russian Audit Chamber chief, Sergei Stepashin, invited to the ceremony by the Interior Ministry, also congratulated the division's personnel on the unit's 80th birthday and suggested that "historical justice should be done through re-naming the division after Felix Dzerzhinsky". The unit had been carrying this name from the early 1920s to the 1990s.

The anniversary events were also attended by the Interior Troops Commander Vyacheslav Tikhomirov and Deputy Interior Ministers Alexander Chekalin and Sergei Shadrin.

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