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    80 GANGS NUMBERING UP TO 1,500 MILITANTS ACTIVE IN CHECHNYA

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    GROZNY, January 21 (RIA Novosti) - At the present moment in Chechnya there are approximately 80 active gangs numbering approximately 1,500 militants. This data was revealed to RIA Novosti at the Headquarters on the Control on the Antiterrorist Operation in the North Caucasus with reference to Russian Deputy Interior Minister Yury Maltsev, who was speaking at the session in Khankala (main base of the Russian Armed Forces in Chechnya).

    There are many mercenaries among the active militants from foreign and CIS countries, Maltsev stressed. According to him, Chechen illegal armed formations are formed to some degree from militants, who were hiding as refugees in the western parts of the republic and are now returning from the refugees camps to the mountainous areas.

    According to Maltsev, in the course of the last year law-enforcers arrested about 1,500 people suspected of participation in the gang formations. 335 militants, who offered resistance upon the arrest were eliminated. More than 3,000 units of weapons, over 1 mln of ammo and 4.5 metric tons of explosives were confiscated.

    The total number of crimes registered committed in Chechnya in 2003 has increased, however the number of armed robberies decreased by 24.7%, robberies - by 35.3%, thefts - by 7.8% and murders - by 2.1%, Maltsev said.

    At the same time a number of the registered crimes in the sphere of economics increased by 30%. For instance, there were registered more than 300 crimes connected with the illegal turnover of oil products, 70 - connected with budget funds misappropriation and 90 - in the agroindustrial complex. A lot of crimes were committed in the social sphere, in particular those connected with citizens' financial compensations for the damaged living houses. 1,500 documents on the compensation contained false information. Thus, the authors of these documents were trying to receive illegally approximately 506 mln rubles (approximately $17.5 mln), the Russian Deputy Interior Minister said.

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