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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen President Fights Oil Thieves

Chechnya's president has ordered tough measures against oil thieves, decreeing that vehicles carrying stolen or bootleg oil products be blown up or burned on the spot, Interfax reported.

Drivers of the vehicles and their bodyguards will be prosecuted under the decree, which was signed Saturday, Interfax reported.

The illegal oil business is prospering in Chechnya, where hundreds of roadside refineries sprouted during the anarchy of the republic's 1994 to 1996 war against Russia. Many Chechens learned to tap into the region's oil fields and a major pipeline taking oil from southern Russia to refineries in Azerbaijan.

Before Saturday's order, vehicles with bootleg or stolen oil have been released to their owners following the payment of a fine.

"The decree will help to completely eradicate the illegal oil business, and this is of great importance for ensuring the safety of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline," the president of Chechnya's Hunko oil company, Khozhakhmed Yarikhanov, was quoted by Interfax as saying.