A war has been raging in the north Caucasian Republic of Chechnya in the Russian Federation since November 1994. Over the years, officials in Moscow have given the war various names. Sometimes it is called "putting the region in order"; since the beginning of the international "anti-terrorist" era, it has become a "counter-terrorist operation". But it is never called a war, despite the fact that an estimated 70,000-200,000 Russian military personnel are conducting operations as if on enemy territory. The civilian population has taken the brunt of the military impact. For the past 12 years, those living and working in Chechnya have been aware that federal forces were testing new types of weapons. The story of what happened in the Shelkovsk district is simply the biggest such case.
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