Letter: A crime in Chechnya

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Russian military action in Chechnya is not aimed at civilians, a malicious spin that only goes to provide good headlines in the West. Army warnings have been made clearly to the terrorist groupings that it is they that will be destroyed if they do not surrender their evil grip on civilian life in the republic.

The federal forces are targeting criminal gangs, murderers, kidnappers and drug barons - the kind of men who have kept Chechen people living in fear and poverty for years and who savagely beheaded telecoms engineers from Britain exactly a year ago.

The outbreak of hostilities in Dagestan in the summer and ensuing terrorist atrocities across other regions of Russia is all part of an expansionist fundamentalist agenda. So before any lasting peace in Chechnya can ensue, a decisive battle must be won to drive the international bandits out and break their reign of terror.

Of course military operations cause civilian casualties, and Nato forces in action in Yugoslavia were far from immune from such mistakes. Russia has allocated 3.5bn roubles from an already overstretched budget to assist the refugees and is rallying to rebuild the social infrastructure.

PAUL COLSTON

Publications Director

Russian Information Agency - Novosti

London SW7

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