Putin rules out repeat war with separatists in Russia: media

31st August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ruled out a fresh war in the North Caucasus where the Kremlin fought Islamists in the 1990s, saying rebels lacked money and support for a new separatist conflict.

"I don't think there are conditions for this today," Putin said in an interview with the mass circulation tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda published on Tuesday.

"No-one who would like to unleash something large there, has the strength for it. Today they are capable of carrying out isolated terrorist acts -- yes, of course. They are capable of shooting from round the corner (or) blowing up something."

"But they have neither strength nor money for a war. And most importantly, no support from the public."

Last year, the Kremlin announced the official end of a counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya that had been in place for a decade in a sign that relative normality had returned to the volatile North Caucasus region.

The counter-terrorist operation was introduced as Moscow launched a second war against separatists in the Muslim region of Chechnya in 1999.

Despite the move, the North Caucasus has seen a rise in violence in recent months and female suicide bombers from the region carried out twin suicide attacks that killed 40 in the Moscow metro in March.

Putin has repeatedly vowed to quash any attempts to break up Russia and in July announced a new ambitious drive to bring prosperity to the violence-torn North Caucasus region by enticing investors there.

He said at that time that extremists were "degenerating into common criminal groups."

Putin also praised Chechnya's 33-year-old leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is accused by human rights groups of using his personal security forces to crack down on critics in his half-decade in power.

"You have to give credit to Ramzan Kadyrov," Putin was quoted as saying. "He's such a decisive, feisty man, a warrior rather than an economic manager. But he has turned out to be a good economic manager too."

© 2010 AFP

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