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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Rebel Web Site Derides Amnesty Offer

A Chechen rebel-linked web site derided the Kremlin-backed amnesty offer for separatist fighters as "propaganda," as Russian news agencies reported Tuesday that more militants had surrendered after the deadline expired.

A statement posted on the Kavkaz Center's web site said the offer was "the latest stage of propaganda in an endless sequence of disinformation, which Moscow has used for many years offering it as reality."

The statement, dated Monday, asserted that most of the militants given amnesty did not fight in the so-called second war in Chechnya, which began in 1999, and that most were civilians and relatives of separatist fighters who were kidnapped by federal forces or allied regional security forces.

There was no immediate way to verify the rebel statement, nor the announcement by federal officials Monday that more than 500 militants had turned themselves in before the midnight deadline.

News agencies said Tuesday that another six militants had turned themselves in to Chechen officials.

Authorities offered the amnesty in July as part of efforts to restore peace and some measure of normal life in Chechnya.

They promised that militants who surrendered would not be prosecuted unless they were suspected of serious crimes such as murder, rape or terrorism.

The Kremlin has offered several similar deals in the past -- all of which have led to mixed results.

The latest proposal followed the death in July of the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, responsible for many of the worst terror attacks to hit Russia since 1994, when the first post-Soviet war in the region began.

Human rights groups say many militants who surrender join the ranks of Chechnya's security forces, which have themselves been accused of involvement in abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings of civilians.