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    CRIME RATE ON THE RISE IN CHECHNYA

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    KHANKALA, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - The commanders of the Russian joint group of forces in the North Caucasus do not rule it out that Chechen militants might get concentrated in villages under the disguise of local residents. Commander of the federal group, General Valery Baranov said that amnestied militants could also infiltrate in the republic's authorities. The general warned about this at a routine conference held at a Russian base in Khankala near Grozny.

    According to Baranov, violent crimes such as banditry, kidnapping, and physical elimination threats, are continuing to increase in Chechnya. This has a strong negative impact on all spheres of life in the republic and bars socio-economic and political changes in Chechnya, the general said.

    According to him, militants are actively scheming to disrupt presidential elections in Russia due in March. "Armed actions are being planned, which will have a political resonance, as gang leaders assume," said Baranov.

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