Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Rare Visitor

From a Reuters report:
Russia's President Vladimir Putin told ministers on Friday they must work harder to crush violent insurgents in the North Caucasus region, a six-year-old election pledge that still eludes the Kremlin chief.

Putin was making a rare visit to the mountainous region on Russia's southern flank, scene of a long fight with separatist rebels in Chechnya and worsening violence in neighbouring Dagestan that has spilled over from Chechnya.

Putin's previously unpublicised arrival in Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, was his first time in the region since the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 2004 Beslan school siege in which over 300 people -- half of them children -- were killed.

"In the past few years a lot of work has been done in the North Caucasus and the south of Russia," Putin told ministers and military commanders in camouflage fatigues.

"But from the point of view of fighting organised crime and terrorism, the situation remains fairly difficult and we can't say we have done everything possible so that we can feel relaxed," Putin said in televised remarks.

Dressed in a black polo shirt and shadowed by guards with automatic weapons, Putin toured a secret service training centre and flew in a military helicopter to inspect a border patrol tasked with intercepting armed groups.

No comments: