Sergei Ivanov: no double standards can be applied to Chechen terrorists

No double standards can be applied to Chechen terrorists, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told journalists on Monday.

According to him, the settlement process in the Chechen republic has two main directions. The first of these directions is political settlement. "By March 2003, Chechnya will have held a referendum to determine its political status and system of authorities and adopt a Constitution," said Ivanov who identified it as "a very important component" in the effort to stabilise the situation in the republic.

The second direction is the struggle against terrorism, which has been going on for eight years now.

"There are people in Chechnya who lead a struggle with weapons in their hands, blows up convoys and stages terrorist acts - mostly not against the federal forces but against the civilian Chechen population, which is sick of the senseless war and which only wants peace on the long-suffering Chechen land," said Ivanov.

Apart from terrorists, there are also foreign mercenaries in Chechnya, went on Ivanov. Some of the international centers keep financing the terrorists. No double standards can be applied to these people, he emphasized.

According to his words, the people who blow up convoys and houses and murder administration employees cannot be called rebels or freedom fighters. They are terrorists and they must be treated as such, he said.

The minister also said he regretted the fact that some countries calling themselves members of the anti-terrorist coalition did not actually combat terrorism and even allowed "terrorist cells" to "make nests" on their territories.

Ivanov praised the accuracy of Georgian special forces, who had captured one of the masterminds behind the Moscow and Volgodonsk explosions of 1999.

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