Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chechens living in Georgia request refugee status to return home

About 90 Chechens living in Georgia have requested refugee status since January to allow them to return to Chechnya, the head of the Russian republic's migration department said Tuesday.

"Our department has received about 90 applications from Georgian residents requesting visas and other documentation to return to Russia. These are mainly ethnic Chechens living in Georgia," Asu Dadurkayev said.

Dadurkayev cited the recent South Ossetia conflict as a reason for the increase in applications.
Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war in August 2008 after Tbilisi launched an offensive on its former republic of South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
"The applications are currently being considered in line with a federal refugee law and procedures," he said.

Dadurkayev said that over 3,000 people had returned to Chechnya from the neighboring North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia since the year start, adding that a total of 350,000 people had returned home since 1999 out of more than 500,000 that fled in the 1990s.
Last week saw a surge in attacks on Russian troops in Chechnya just two days after the Kremlin announced that its 10-year counter-terrorism operation in the troubled region had formally ended.

The attacks prompted Russia's Interior Ministry to announce on Friday that it was reintroducing anti-terrorism operations in three districts in southern Chechnya.

Russian federal troops launched the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya in the fall of 1999 after a group of militants led by Shamil Basayev and Arab mercenary Khattab invaded neighboring Daghestan. Moscow conducted a separate campaign in Chechnya in 1994-1996.

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