Yamadayev Criticizes Amnesty for Rebels

A military commander at odds with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said Saturday that amnestied rebels recruited by Kadyrov were engaged in violence and stood ready for another war with Russia.

In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station, Sulim Yamadayev, the commander of the elite Vostok battalion, described a situation in Chechnya that differs greatly from Kremlin claims that it has re-established control there.

"You think there is order here? This amnestied army goes around with weapons. They do not have to hide and run … They have everything. They are just waiting," Yamadayev said.

The commander believed that the amnestied rebels could at any moment return to the mountains and fight against Russia, Ekho Moskvy's commentator said.

Yamadayev's comments followed a clash this week between his fighters, who formally report to the Defense Ministry in Moscow, and soldiers commanded by Kadyrov. Vehicles in their convoys failed to give way and several fighters were killed.

Both leaders pledge their loyalty to Russia's outgoing President Vladimir Putin, who is due to step down after the inauguration of President-elect Dmitry Medvedev on May 7.

"This is a very embarrassing statement and a very embarrassing situation for the Kremlin," defense analyst Pavel Felgengauer said.

The outcome of the new Chechen power struggle between the pro-Russian factions would most likely be settled in the Kremlin after a personal intervention by Putin, but a resumption of Chechnya's armed conflict was always a possibility, he said.

"These fighters are officially serving under the Russian flag, but in fact they are only loyal to their commanders. A conflict is always possible. This is a volatile region which is never stable," Felgenhauer said.

Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov, loyal to Kadyrov, said police were outraged by Yamadayev's statement, noting that 80 policemen were killed and 130 wounded in clashes with rebels since 2004.

n A district police chief in Chechnya has been found dead after being abducted by gunmen, The Associated Press reported.

Witnesses reported seeing three men with automatic weapons force police captain Ali Gaidamurov into a car Thursday evening in the town of Assinovskaya, the Chechen Interior Ministry said. His body was found several hours later by a roadside with multiple gunshot wounds, it said.