Russia 090417 Basic Political Developments

Clash in Chechnya after end of security regime

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Clash in Chechnya after end of security regime

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian security forces have clashed in Chechnya with a dozen militants after Moscow formally ended a military crackdown in place for the last decade, reports said on Friday.

The Russian security forces clashed with the group outside the settlement of Dai in Chechnya and used artillery fire, the Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted security sources as saying.

There were no casualties amongst the security forces, it said. The clash took place at 10:50 am (0650 GMT) on Thursday but these were the first reports to have emerged.

Russia at midnight Wednesday-Thursday ended its decade-long "counter-terrorist operation" in Chechnya, claiming stability had returned to a territory torn apart by two wars since the collapse of communism.

This was the first reported clash since the security regime was abolished.

Moscow fought two full-scale wars with separatist forces in Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the situation has largely stabilised in recent years under strongman pro-Moscow local leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Russia says SARS did not kill Chinese woman
Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:21am BST

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Chinese women who suddenly died on a Russian train this week in the country's Far East was not struck down by the SARS virus, Interfax news agency quoted a top Russian health official as saying on Friday.

Russian health authorities have quarantined 53 people from the same train while they investigate the cause of the illness after the woman died on the way to Moscow from the city of Blagoveshchensk on the border with China.

On Thursday Radio Television Hong Kong sent alarm bells through the health community when it reported the woman may have died from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, a contagious disease that spread worldwide and killed at least 774 people in 2002 and 2003.

Preliminary test results using material from the woman's lungs, intestines and brain showed no trace of SARS or other dangerous viruses, said Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief public health official.

"Investigations are continuing," he said, adding that more data would be available later on Friday.

(Reporting by James Kilner)

Doctors to confirm exact cause of suspected avian flu death

MOSCOW, April 17 (Itar-Tass) -- Doctors are planning to confirm on Friday that the death of a Chinese woman in a Russian train on Wednesday was pneumonia rather than initially suspected avian flu.

Cui Cinian died in Blagoveshchensk-Moscow train in a car with Chinese labor migrants and her body was taken off the train at the Zuyevka railway station in central Russia’s Kirov region.

“The autopsy provided a preliminary conclusion that she died of double pneumonia,” Russia’s sanitary watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said.

“The girl was sick for some five days, the illness was grave, but she received no treatment,” it said.

“The exact cause of the death cannot be determined earlier than Friday when the first test results arrive,” it said.

Russia's chief sanitary officer Gennady Onishchenko said the condition of the passengers from the Blagoveshchensk-Moscow train did not cause concern.

“The condition of all those currently staying at an in-patient hospital of the town of Kirov does not cause concern,” Onishchenko said on Thursday.

Russian Railways officials said the passengers who arrived in Moscow by the Blagoveshchensk-Moscow train have no health complaints.

“The passengers have been under medical supervision during the entire travel time: doctors took their temperatures and carried out examinations,” a company official said, adding “medics have not found any symptoms of diseases.”

Russian sanitary authorities however ordered to uncouple the first three cars before allowing the train to travel further to Moscow. All the cars that arrived in Moscow were decontaminated.

In the meantime, Russian regions bordering on China tightened health controls of arrivals from the neighboring country.

Tajik national stabbed to death in Moscow

MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow police are searching for four men who attacked two Tajik nationals in east Moscow, killing one of them and injuring the other, a police source said on Friday.

"Four masked men... attacked the Tajik nationals with knives before fleeing," the source said. "One of the victims died at the scene and the other was hospitalized."

There is currently no information on the condition of the second man.

Attacks on foreigners and ethnic minorities are a regular occurrence in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as other Russian cities. According to the Russian non-governmental organization SOVA, at least 68 people died and 262 were injured in racially motivated attacks in the country in the first eight months of 2008.

Russia's Interior Ministry has warned of a rise in crimes against foreigners and migrant workers amid the current economic crisis.

Al-Qaeda prepares terrorist attacks in Russia


Russian special services disclosed monstrous designs of international terrorist network al-Qaeda. The organization intended to conduct a series of terrorist attacks in Russia during the celebration of the Orthodox Easter. Terrorists planned to explode a building of the Federal Security Bureau in Moscow, a building of an aircraft-making association and a tan-yard in Kazan. They also planned to assassinate a high-ranking FSB official, Boris G.

Russian special services left no chances to the terrorists. Eight al-Qaeda members have made their way to Kazan using fake passports. Three of the terrorists are Russians.

“They originally were given Indian passports, but they later decided to issue Azeri passports for them, because it is always easy for guest-workers to remain inconspicuous,” an official said.

The special services have obtained the verbal descriptions of all the three suspects. The first one of them, Mohammad Yunus bin Mussa is a 35-year-old red-haired well-built male. The second one is Janes Han bin Ali Khan, a 32-year-old, dark-haired male. The third suspect is identified as Sodjat Ali Shakh bin Makbul Ali Shakh, 35, dark hair. The three men are fluent in Russian, Pushtu, Dari, as well as the Arab and the Turkish, reports.

“The terrorists planned to use car bombs in their subversive activities. The Russian services have obtained the numbers of those wheeled bombs,” an official said.

In addition to Easter terrorist attacks, the gunmen planned to hold arson attacks of the buildings of the Internal Affairs Ministry, the FSB and the offices of United Russia Party.

Russia’s Federal Security Service official warns about threat of Afghan terrorists


At a security conference of members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Moscow, a high-ranking official of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) stated that terrorist groups brewing in the region of the Afghan-Pakistani border were one of the biggest threats to the national security of Russia and its allies in the region, according to TV channel Russia Today.
“Despite the effort of the international coalition in Afghanistan, terrorist groups have managed to rebuild their potential under the flag of Al-Qaeda, which has strengthened its role as an international coordinator of terrorism,” Colonel General Alexei Sedov, who heads the FSB’s task force tackling terrorism threats, told Russia Today.
According to the FSB official, the NATO-led operation failed to take into account cultural and regional specifics of the region, which lead to spiraling insurgency.
General Sedov mentioned several terrorist organisations as posing the worst threat towards Russia, including the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan. The unfolding global economic crisis may contribute to surge of terrorism across the world, the counter-terrorism expert warned.
Sedov said terrorists and extremists are gaining proficiency with cyberwarfare and may be planning cyberattacks on official organizations and private companies, which deal with vulnerable objects of infrastructure.
“There is information that terrorists use the Internet to simulate attacks on specific locations and to subtly coordinate actions of different cells,” he said. “Terrorist materials are published in more than 40 languages. Analysts believe that for, say, Al-Qaeda, survival of its ideology is far more important that the survival of individual members of the organization, and the Internet as it is now is a perfect means of propaganda.” Sedov added that the increasing expertise that terrorist organisation have in IT poses a ‘principally new threat’, according to Russia Today.

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