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The BBC's Fergus Nicoll
"Extraction from the Chechen quagmire is not going to be easy for President Putin"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jacky Rowland
"The government says the war against the rebels in winding down"
 real 28k

Sunday, 15 April, 2001, 00:47 GMT 01:47 UK
Second Chechen official killed
Russian soldiers on duty in Chechnya
Putin "disgusted" that troops not being paid on time
A senior official of the pro-Russian Chechen government has been assassinated.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead the Deputy Prosecutor, Vladimir Moroz, in the capital Grozny.

It is the second killing of a government official in two days and correspondents say it underscores the tenuous control of Russian forces on a republic ravaged by years of separatist conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin: Firm line with Chechen rebels
Late on Thursday a top Chechen administrator, Shamalu Deniyev, died from head wounds sustained in a daring bomb attack that took place during a television interview.

He was the rebels' most senior assassination victim since the start of the 18-month separatist war.

The latest killing coincided with a visit to the republic by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

He visited the place where, last year, more than 80 Russian troops were killed in a clash with rebels.

Mr Putin also expressed anger over delays in payments to troops serving in Chechnya.

Shamalu Deniyev
Shamalu Deniyev was killed in a bomb attack
The president, who flew in by helicopter, said he had been appalled by media reports that men risking their lives for their country were not being paid on time.

"When I watch the main television channels, I watch with disgust the scenes when people are demanding wages they earned long ago," he said.

"They are risking their lives, fulfilling their duty to the fatherland, they are fighting to restore constitutional order to the North Caucasus, and then don't get paid on time. This is outrageous."

Mr Putin has made trips to Chechnya before, where Russia's latest military campaign began in October 1999.

He told Russian state television that the financing of federal forces was his primary reason for this visit.

He added that the level of troop withdrawals from the renegade province would also be debated.

Continuing casualties

The BBC Moscow correspondent, Jacky Rowland, says that Mr Putin owes much of his popularity to his tough line on the separatist war in Chechnya, but a year after his election the rebels continue to inflict casualties on federal troops.

The Russian Government says the war to subdue Chechen rebels is winding down.

Last month, the Russian authorities began pulling out some troops in what they described as proof of the growing stability in Chechnya.

But, although guerrillas no longer launch large-scale military operations, they warn that the fighting is far from over.

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See also:

13 Apr 01 | Europe
Top official killed in Chechnya
13 Mar 01 | Media reports
Russia begins Chechnya pullout
29 Nov 00 | Europe
Eyewitness: Chechnya's bitter war
01 Oct 00 | Europe
Analysis: Chechnya one year on
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