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Chechens offer weary welcome to new Crimean compatriots

By Thomas Grove GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) - Days before Crimea voted in a referendum to join Russia from Ukraine, Adam, a Chechen soldier, was ordered to go to the Black Sea peninsula to defend Russia's interests. He and about 200 other soldiers from his special battalion, grouping ethnic Chechens, were mobilized on March 12 and spent two weeks in the Crimean city of Yevpatoria.

Chechen president dedicates Israel's biggest mosque

The head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, inaugurated Sunday Israel's largest mosque, in a village near Jerusalem whose inhabitants claim descent from Muslim migrants from the Caucasus. "Chechens were only able to declare their nationality freely 11 years ago thanks to Akhmad Kadyrov who drafted the Chechen constitution and enabled us to say to the world we are Muslim Chechens," he told the gathering.

North Caucasus rebel leader Umarov dead, replaced: website

By Alissa de Carbonnel MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's most wanted man, Doku Umarov, is dead and has been replaced as the leader of an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, a website that sympathizes with the militants said on Tuesday. Umarov's forces have claimed responsibility for several deadly bombings, including in Moscow. His death has been reported several times by the Kremlin-backed leader of the Chechnya region, but never before by Umarov's sympathizers.

Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov is dead

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, whose Caucasus Emirate group claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks in Russia over the last years, has been killed, a pro-insurgency website said Tuesday. "The leadership of the Caucasus Emirate officially announces the martyrdom of Emir Dokku Abu Usman," the Kavkaz Center website said, using the Arabised nom-de-guerre of Umarov.

Chechnya hosts Olympic torch with lavish ceremony

The Olympic torch on Tuesday received a lavish welcome in the volatile North Caucasus region of Chechnya whose separatists have threatened to disrupt the Winter Games that begin in Sochi next month. During a pomp-filled ceremony at Grozny stadium Chechen strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov carried the torch around the arena in front of thousands of spectators. "We love sport, we have done much for its development," Kadyrov, who wore a tracksuit and a white cap with the logo of the Sochi Games, said in televised remarks.

Seven injured as blasts rock Russia before Olympic Games

Five Russian civilians and two policemen were reported injured on Friday in a restaurant attack in Dagestan which is home to insurgents who have threatened to strike next month's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. "The first explosion came when a grenade launcher fired at the second floor of the restaurant. The second came when a parked car blew up," an interior ministry source in the mostly Muslim North Caucasus republic of Dagestan was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.

Islamist rebel who threatened Olympics claimed dead

A Chechen rebel leader who vowed to disrupt the Sochi Winter Olympics is dead, Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov said Friday although Russian security services did not confirm the claim. Doku Umarov, who styles himself the "Caucasus Emir", was killed in a security operation, Kadyrov said in a statement published Friday on the Chechen government's website. "We are 99.9 percent sure of this," Kadyrov said.

Security forces dismiss reports Russia's top militant is dead

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Chechnya's Moscow-backed leader said on Thursday he believed police had killed Russia's most wanted man Doku Umarov, who has called for attacks on the Winter Olympics, but security sources suggested Umarov is still alive. The death of Islamist leader Umarov would be a breakthrough for President Vladimir Putin in the fight against militants before next month's Games, on which the Kremlin chief has staked much of his political and personal reputation.

Ethnic Russian recruits to insurgency pose new threat before Olympics

By Alissa de Carbonnel MOSCOW (Reuters) - The suspected involvement of converts to Islam in Russian suicide bombings points to the growing reach of jihadists far beyond the Muslim provinces of Chechnya and Dagestan, where insurgency and separatism have simmered for two decades. Russian news media say the authorities suspect an ethnic-Russian convert to Islam may have been behind one of the two suicide bombings that killed a total of 34 people in the past two days in Volgograd, a southern Russian city.

Ethnic Russian recruits to insurgency pose new threat before Olympics

By Alissa de Carbonnel MOSCOW (Reuters) - The suspected involvement of converts to Islam in Russian suicide bombings points to the growing reach of jihadists far beyond the Muslim provinces of Chechnya and Dagestan, where insurgency and separatism have simmered for two decades. Russian news media say the authorities suspect an ethnic-Russian convert to Islam may have been behind one of the two suicide bombings that killed a total of 34 people in the past two days in Volgograd, a southern Russian city.
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