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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Calls Rebels Faithless Bandits

RIA-Novosti / ReutersMedvedev meeting Yevkurov in Sochi on Friday. They also met at a larger gathering of North Caucasus leaders.

President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that rebels should no longer be called Islamic extremists but bandits.

“Unfortunately, rebel groups are still able to bring young people under their wing, into their criminal activities. This is a fact,” Medvedev said during a televised portion of a meeting with North Caucasus leaders aimed at stopping young men from joining the rebels.

Medvedev encouraged the regional leaders to offer educational programs and activities. He said the authorities should exercise control over citizens who want to study at Islamic universities abroad, and he called for more active promotion in Russia of what he termed true Islamic values in an effort to counter web sites promoting radical Islam. Among his proposals was the creation of a Muslim television channel.

Medvedev said he agreed with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov that rebels should no longer be called Islamic extremists. “The right word to call bandits is bandits,” he said. “There is no religious content, even if they think in their heads they are faithful Muslims.”

Kadyrov said little has been done to fight religious extremism. “We have to search for the mistakes in ourselves, in our own actions, to find them and fix them,” he said. “We have to do everything so that we win spiritually.”

He proposed a joint effort involving spiritual leaders, police and federal security officers.

Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, still limping from a suicide bomb attack in June, said Islamic militancy would be impossible to fight without greater support from the Kremlin. “[It] has permeated all facets of life in society. Today … [it] presents a serious threat to peace and order in the republic and to the region as a whole, it’s impossible not to feel it,” Yevkurov said.

As national television channels showed Medvedev meeting with North Caucasus leaders in prime time, news agencies carried reports of more violence.

In the latest suicide bombing, two Chechen militants blew themselves up to escape capture, wounding three policemen and three civilians in the process, Chechen Interior Ministry spokesman Magomed Deniyev said.

They were on a federal wanted list and police had trapped them inside a house in the town of Shali, he said. When police demanded they give themselves up, the militants opened fire and then set off explosives attached to their bodies, killing themselves and sending six people to the hospital with shrapnel wounds, the spokesman said.

A suicide bombing Tuesday in the Shali district killed four Chechen police officers, and another four were killed the previous week by two attackers on bicycles.

In Dagestan, police said they killed three militants early Friday who had opened fire on a police post. The post in Makhachkala, the capital, was unmanned, but police patrolling nearby tracked the militants to a house and surrounded them there, Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said.

Police, backed up by special forces and armored vehicles, exchanged fire with the militants for several hours before killing them, he said.

Also Friday, a policeman was shot dead in a separate attack in Makhachkala, police chief Shamil Guseinov said.

Three rebels died and one officer was wounded in a gunbattle in Kabardino-Balkaria.

(AP, Reuters, MT)