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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.

    According to him, subversive terrorist acts, especially with the use of radio-controlled explosive devices, are remaining the main threat facing Chechen people.

    He also stated that in January militants stepped up their activities against the Russian federal forces.

    As for the latter, recent special operations left 8 militants dead and 146 suspected bandits detained. Besides, over 160 units of weapons and military hardware and also about 63,000 units of various ammunition were confiscated, said the commander of the Russian forces in Chechnya.

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