INTERIOR MINISTRY HAS NO PLANS TO CHANGE PERSONNEL STRENGTH OF ITS FORCE IN CHECHNYA

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REUTOV (Moscow Region), June 19 (RIA Novosti) - In the run-up to the presidential election in Chechnya the Russian Interior Ministry is not going to change the personnel strength of the Interior Troops force currently deployed in Chechnya, Chief of the Interior Troops Main Staff, General Nikolai Rogozhkin, told journalists on Saturday.

The General emphasized that at present the situation in the Chechen Republic is stable and totally under the federal forces' control.

Nikolai Rogozhkin added that according to the rearmament plan the entire Interior Troops force in the North Caucasus is being currently re-armed with new types of weapons and materiel.

"At present, we are delivering to the area new armored personnel carriers as well as other disguised armor equipment designed to provide enhanced protection of personnel from small-arms weapons and shrapnel," Rogozhkin said.

He reminded the audience that currently the 46 operational brigade of the Interior Troops is deployed in Chechnya on a permanent basis.

The General also said that the Interior Ministry plans to conduct a large-scale exercise of the Russian Interior Troops in the autumn of 2004.

"All six districts of the Russian Interior Troops are going to be involved in a large-scale command post exercise scheduled for late September - early October," General Rogozhkin said. According to him, the exercise will target a wide-ranged mission area, including conduct of anti-terrorist operations.

"The exercise will provide a good training opportunity for the enlisted personnel and will primarily target enhancement of the Interior Troops' combat readiness," he said. The General added that helicopters and other military equipment will be employed for effective troops transportation to designated areas.

Nikolai Rogozhkin reminded the audience that about 10,000 interior troops had been successfully re-deployed to designated areas in the course of a similar exercise conducted last year.

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