Are there any Chechen militants in the Crimea?

Lieutenant-General Nikolai Polamarchuk, Ukraine's Deputy Interior Minister and the head of the Ukrainian interior ministry's office to the Crimea, has denied media reports about field commanders and whole militant units from Chechnya being based in the Crimean Mountains and supported by Crimean-Tatar repatriates.

Such statements are absolute "nonsense," he told journalists at a press conference in Simferopol. "We have combed through the mountains and forests of the whole peninsula in search of dangerous criminals and we found nothing," he stressed. The situation, he said, was "fully controlled" by the law enforcing authorities.

Polamarchuk did acknowledge however that Ukraine's law enforcers had registered an increasing inflow of Chechen migrants, who bought up land allotments and properties on the territory of the peninsula, particularly specializing in national children's health resorts in Yevpatoria. The Ukrainian interior ministry registered more than 20 such purchase-and-sale deals in November alone, he said.

The Crimean police took note of the inflow of Chechen migrants as a body controlling all operations dealing with purchase and sale of land holdings and properties in the Crimea, reported Polamarchuk, adding that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had promised to supervise the process personally.

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