Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chechnya: Tanks In Village Streets

From the Prague Watchdog (my tr.):
Caterpillar armour now moves through village streets in Chechnya

By Umalt Chadayev

CHECHNYA – The July 4 ban on the movement of federal caterpillar armour along asphalt-surfaced roads in Chechnya has made the military move it through the streets of populated areas.

According to information received from a resident of the village of Prigorodnoye, Groznensky district, Russian soldiers recently "took over" the streets of this populated area for moving their caterpillar armoured vehicles. As the man asserts, caterpillar-mounted armour is being moved almost daily through the streets of the village, causing extreme disturbance to the local residents.

"Recently Russian soldiers travelling to and from Khankala (the main Russian military base in Chechnya) in caterpillar armoured vehicles have been moving them exclusively through the streets of our village.

People are extremely worried and angry about it", says Musa, a 40-year-old Prigorodnoye resident. "Children are playing in our streets, people are walking in them, and then a BMP (infantry fighting vehicle) or whatever comes charging along!"

"What's more, the constant movement of armour has led to the roads in our village being almost completely ruined. Driving along them in a passenger car is already getting to be a problem, and when the rains come all we'll have left here are some ruts and potholes," he says.

"I don't know where the military command were looking when they issued this order. In order to preserve the asphalt on the roads, they're creating problems for the human beings! Is it really impossible for these soldiers just to stay in their barracks and stop rushing to and fro in armoured vehicles, especially since they're constantly saying that the war in Chechnya is over?"

It should be recalled that at a meeting with the heads of law enforcement agencies held on July 3, Ramzan Kadyrov, Premier of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, spoke of the need to restrict the movement of military armour along municipal streets.

"There have been no military operations in the republic for a long time, and the unwarranted movement of military equipment must be restricted," Kadyrov said. "The question of the observance of social law and order concerns everyone in the Chechen Republic."

On the following day (July 4) the military commandant of the republic, General Grigory Fomenko issued an order banning the movement of military caterpillar armour along asphalt-surfaced roads. According to this instruction, armoured vehicles mounted on tracks must be moved solely along country roads or along the sides of asphalted main roads.

In addition, it was stipulated that in cases where it was necessary for military caterpillar armour to be brought in for carrying out urgent tasks, the commanders of the Russian military units stationed in Chechnya must come to an agreement on this question with local administrative and police heads. At the same time, the order
established a single route for the movement of both military and civilian caterpillar-mounted equipment throughout the entire territory of Chechnya.

Translated by David McDuff.
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