08 November 2008, 22:13

No more "Zapad" and "Vostok" battalions in Chechnya

The battalions "Zapad" (West) and "Vostok" (East) of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division of the Russian Ministry of Defence, deployed in the territory of Chechnya, are transformed into motorized rifle companies; is was announced by General-Colonel Vladimir Moltenskoy, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces.

"These subdivisions will no longer exist," reports the press service of Chechen President with reference to Mr Moltenskoy. These battalions are transformed into motor-rife companies in the structure of the 42nd Motor-Rifle Division of the Ministry of Defence deployed in Chechnya, the General has explained.

The transformation of the battalions "Zapad" and "Vostok" is made within the process of reshaping the image of the Land Forces. "The motorized rifle companies will be engaged in combat training under the plans and only within the structure of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division," the RIA "Novosti" quotes Vladimir Moltenskoy as saying. Earlier, the "Interfax" reported with reference to the General that the battalions "Zapad" and "Vostok" would be disbanded. From now on, the staff of the units is on vacations.

According to Mr Moltenskoy, a special commission set up by the Ministry of Defence together with the Military Prosecutor's Office will start investigating the crimes incriminated to former servicemen of these battalions.

The battalions "Zapad" and "Vostok" of the special troops under the so-called GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff), consisting of ethnic Chechens, were created in 2003. The "Zapad" employs natives of the Nadterechny District of the republic, who initially had been in opposition to the authorities of self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, back under Dzhokhar Dudaev and Aslan Maskhadov.

The core of the "Vostok", which until recently was under command of Lieutenant Colonel Sulim Yamadaev, was made of former fighters of the 2nd Battalion of National Guard of Ichkeria, where Yamadaev was in command in the time of Aslan Maskhadov's power.

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