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The president of Chechnya said Thursday that 1,900 civilians and 400 military servicemen went missing during two military campaigns in the troubled Russian republic
The president of Chechnya said Thursday that 1,900 civilians and 400 military servicemen went missing during two military campaigns in the troubled Russian republic. Chechnya has been largely ruined by years of fighting dating back to the start of the first military campaign, launched in 1994 under then-President Boris Yeltsin to "restore constitutional order," and which ended in 1996 with the withdrawal of Russian troops and de facto independence for the republic In 1999, following a series of terrorist attacks in Russia launched from Chechnya, the new prime minister, Vladimir Putin, ordered Federal troops back into the rebellious republic in a second military campaign that lasted until 2001. In 2005, Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov said that up to 160,000 people died in the two campaigns. "It is necessary to reinvigorate the search for burial grounds, and the exhumation and identification of unearthed corpses," Alu Alkhanov said at a meeting with heads of law enforcement bodies. "This is a big problem, both for the civilian authorities and the military." Vladimir Kalita, an acting military prosecutor of the joint group of forces in the North Caucasus, said 376 exhumed corpses were currently in a special laboratory outside Chechnya, but that they remained unidentified because they were not military servicemen. "There are comparative materials at the laboratory on all missing military servicemen that we received from relatives for molecular and genetic identification," Kalita said. "It was established that the remains [of exhumed bodies] did not belong to military servicemen." Alkhanov ordered that all the necessary materials needed to identify the bodies be gathered within 10 days.
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