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Russia: July 11, 2001
   

The Russian military commander in Chechnya admitted that Russian troops operated in a criminal fashion when they swept through several villages near the Ingusgetia border on July 4th. The troops were seeking rebels who had earlier set off mines that killed four Russians. The rampage involved pillage and torture. Local pro-Russian officials have long complained that Russian troops are increasingly acting like the rebels they are fighting. Troops have taken to holding arrested suspects for ransom. Russian officers, faced with low morale among their troops, often look the other way, or participate themselves. Most of the combat troops are "contract soldiers" or "kontrakti."  This system pays experienced soldiers a higher rate of pay to stay in, or rejoin, the army and serve in dangerous areas like Chechnya. These men have a mercenary attitude and many act like traditional mercenaries, plundering the locals at every opportunity.