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    RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: MOUNTAINOUS AREAS OF GEORGIA AND CHECHNYA STILL HARBOR SOME ACTIVE UNITS OF FOREIGN MERCENARIES

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    MUNICH, February 7 (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexei Berezin) - The mountainous areas in Georgia and Chechnya sill harbor some active units of foreign mercenaries, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the 40th Security Conference in Munich where he made a report "Issues of International Security in the Context of Russia-NATO Relations." "The mountainous areas in Georgia and Chechnya still harbor some active illegal armed units comprising Arabs, Turks and even some citizens of West European countries," Ivanov said.

    "They get there by well-known routes. We have repeatedly informed the authorized agencies of the countries involved about valid passports containing entry visas to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Georgia found on the bodies of killed mercenaries," Sergei Ivanov stressed.

    According to him, this is another argument in favor of launching broad and multiple-vector international cooperation aimed at blocking the channels of financing terrorist organizations and their armed formations, irrespective of their geographic location.

    In addition, Sergei Ivanov pointed out that the federal forces have successfully eliminated all major armed units of terrorists in Chechnya and destroyed their infrastructure. "We have now launched the process of political settlement in the region and conducted a local referendum followed by adoption of the Chechen Republic's Constitution. The Chechen Republic is an inalienable part of the Russian Federation," Ivanov said.

    He emphasized that the next steps of the process involve election of the Chechen Parliament and the signing of an Agreement between the Chechen Republic and the federal authorities on division of powers envisaging broad autonomy rights for Chechnya.

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