Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin honored soldiers of a special unit of the Russian Ministry of Defense who participated in the liquidation of insurgents' gangs I Dagestan region in December of past year.
According to ITAR-TASS, 49 privates, officers, sergeants, and sergeant-majors from a special-purpose unit were awarded with orders “For Courage before Motherland” of II and IV degree as well as orders for Fortitude and medals.
“Once again you have displayed in a very believable manner that our Armed Forces, special units and law enforcement are all capable of working professionally and effectively together,” stated Putin during the ceremony. “This is the most considerable contribution to creating order in our country and in Northern Caucasus. It is also a serious contribution to the overall fight against terrorism campaign,” remarked the President.
“I hope that these are not your last awards,” noted Russian President in his address to the military men.
The military men in turn reported that despite all the difficulties encountered in the course the operation, they managed to complete the mission and prevent the gang from entering Georgia. “A large bandit gang has ceased to exist. This information will soon be available to civilians as well as to other bandits, who will have to think twice…,” remarked Commander of the Special Unit.
On January 5th, several sources revealed information concerning Chechen Commander Ruslan Gelaev’s death. However, officially this information has not been confirmed yet.
A gang of 37 men, including some foreign militants has been spotted in Tsuntinsky region in Dagestan on December 15th, 2003. According to Russian frontier guards, this has been a well planned, well equipped gang armed with some serious weapons. During the same day, a special unit of Russian militia and spies was sent to the mountainous region of Dagestan. The entire operation lasted for about two weeks. Majority of insurgents were killed. Three of them were taken captives. Three Russian soldiers died in the course of the operation.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov reported to the President of the complete liquidation of the insurgents on December 30th, 2003.