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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechnya KIAs Honored, Kremlin Blasted

Russian Paratroopers have unveiled the first official memorial to troops killed in the seven-month Chechen conflict and their commander has blamed the Kremlin for their deaths.

The plain brown marble memorial, inscribed with the names of 18 paratroopers killed in fighting in the southern region, was unveiled Sunday in Moscow hours after an agreement was signed with the rebels in the Chechen capital Grozny to cease hostilities.

Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov told a news conference in Grozny on Sunday that a total of 1,800 Russian troops had been killed and 250 were missing in action in breakaway Chechnya.

Kulikov, speaking after Russian and rebel Chechen delegates signed the military agreement, said some 6,500 Russian servicemen had been wounded.

The agreement, signed in the early hours of Sunday morning, added weight to paratroop commander Colonel General Yevgeny Podkolzin's speech to relatives and colleagues of the victims, in which he said he hoped no more names would be added to the memorial stone.

"The guilt is on those leaders who let it happen," Podkolzin told reporters at the ceremony, shown on Independent Television's evening news.