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Vostok battalion military personnel request discharge - Kadyrov

GROZNY, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Two hundred military personnel from the Vostok special battalion in Chechnya have submitted early discharge requests, the Chechen president said on Thursday.

The requests were submitted following earlier media reports of an alleged shootout in Chechnya April 14, involving security convoys of the Chechen president and Sulim Yamadayev, the commander of the Russian Defense Ministry's Vostok special battalion.

"Two hundred service personnel submitted discharge requests as they are unwilling to serve under the command of [Sulim] Yamadayev," Ramzan Kadyrov said. "I have advised them not to hurry with the dismissals as the detachment has merits in the fight against international terrorism and there is no sense in terminating contracts because of a commander."

Two rival columns of vehicles crashed on Monday on a highway in Gudermes after refusing to give way to each other. However, the Russian Defense Ministry officially denied Wednesday a shootout between the rivals.

Chechnya's Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said earlier that Sulim Yamadayev's brother, Badrudi, was suspected to be behind the incident and that law enforcement officers were conducting an operation to try and trace him in the Gudermes district, where the Vostok battalion is stationed.

Meanwhile, the Chechen parliament adopted a statement on Thursday addressed to Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, requesting the dismissal of Commander Sulim Yamadayev and his brother Badrudi Yamadayev from their posts in the battalion, which was specially formed to conduct military operations against Chechen militants.

"The dismissal of the Yamadayev brothers from their administrative posts is the only way to ensure this military detachment is used for its proper purpose," the statement from the Chechen lawmakers said.

In a local television interview on Wednesday, Chechen President Kadyrov accused the Yamadayev brothers of a number of crimes and demanded that they be brought to justice.

"The Yamadayev brothers are linked to a number of serious crimes, including murders and abductions, as well as the events in the Borozdinovskaya [village]," Kadyrov said.

Vostok battalion troops conducted a special military operation in the Borozdinovskaya village in the summer of 2005. Four houses were burnt down, 11 people disappeared and a 77-year-old man died as a result of the operation.

"A criminal must be in a jail. The law is universal for everyone," Kadyrov added.

Moscow has significantly scaled down its military presence in Chechnya, since two devastating military campaigns, in 1994-1996 and 1999-2001. But random fighting and terrorist attacks still occur in the area, despite a widely publicized amnesty campaign announced by authorities.

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