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Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Violence in Chechnya Continues Apace

The International Herald Tribune reports more evidence that the Kremlin does not have Chechnya under control by any means:

Russia: Separate attacks in Chechnya and two neighboring Russian provinces killed two people and injured 10 others, authorities said Friday.

A roadside bomb struck a Russian military armored personal carrier outside Chechnya's capital, Grozny, on Thursday, killing one serviceman and wounding seven others, regional police officials said. The injured suffered shrapnel wounds and were hospitalized.

In Ingushetia, another troubled southern region which neighbors Chechnya to the west, two gunmen in the regional capital, Nazran, opened fire Friday at a car carrying local police, wounding three officers. Police said they were searching for the attackers.

Separately, a local judge in Dagestan, which is east of Chechnya, was killed in the provincial capital, Makhachkala, police said Friday. He was shot twice in the head and his body was found at his apartment. The killing was believed to have occurred Tuesday, police said.

Major fighting has died down in Chechnya since the second war started in 1999 and the separatists were driven from power, but the mostly Muslim region is plagued by rebel attacks as well as violence blamed on federal troops and forces of the Moscow-backed Chechen government.

Nearby regions have also been affected by increasing violence, some of it stemming from criminal gang feuds, some spilling over from Chechnya.

Also Friday, lawmakers in the Russian parliament's lower house gave final backing to a bill that would delay the introduction of jury trials in Chechnya from 2007 to 2010.

The bill's pro-Kremlin sponsors argued that the postponement was necessary for technical reasons, such as the absence of an office to compile lists of jurors.

The move would also preserve Russia's moratorium on the death penalty, which cannot be introduced here until suspects throughout the country are guaranteed a trial by jurors.

Russia adopted the moratorium in 1996 as a condition for joining the Council of Europe, which has pressed Moscow to abolish capital punishment permanently. But most Russians, frightened by crime and terrorism, oppose its abolition.

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