44 Chechen fighters lay down their arms

Forty-four fighters from armed bands led by the most notorious Chechen field commanders have turned themselves in. As Rosbalt learned Wednesday at the press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the fighters are from units led by Shamil Basayev, Aslan Maskhadov, Doku Umarov, Khamzat Tazabayev, Rappani Khalilov and the foreign mercenary Abu al-Valid. The fighters appeared at an agreed-upon meeting place with their weapons. They supplied security agencies with a wide variety of information on hidden stores of explosives, the location of bases and possible routes used by the leaders of the armed bands.

'The appearance of this large group and their admission of guilt is a credit to the lengthy negotiations that security forces have conducted with the armed groups,' the ministry emphasized. 'Most of those turning themselves in said they were motivated by a desire to return to their families and to ordinary work. In addition, the positive changes taking place in the life of the republic influenced their decisions.'

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