Russia has ended its decade-long tight security operation in Chechnya.
Moscow says the mainly Muslim republic has stabilised considerably under its pro-Kremlin President Ramsan Kadyrov – since two separatist wars killed tens of thousands in the 1990s.
Officials in Moscow say their decision is meant to further “normalise” the situation:
“This decision takes note of the improvement in the situation in the Chechen Republic: construction is taking place in Grozny and other cities. Grozny has new goals now, its becoming a tourist destination.” said the Duma spokesman, Boris Gryslov.
There have been no serious attacks by rebels since 2004, although there is sporadic violence now in neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia.
The restrictions were lifted on the orders of President Dmitry Medvedev early on Thursday.
Kremlin opponents had argued that the special regime, which also restricted access for journalists, allowed numerous human rights violations.
The curfews, road blocks, spot searches and arbitrary detention were brought in in 1999 when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent soldiers into the region to curb rebel fighting and end its short-lived independence.
Experts say Chechnya’s 32-year-old President will be pleased with the decision to lift the measures which limited his power on the ground while extending Moscow’s influence.
Kadyrov has subdued rebel resistance and rebuilt parts of the region using billions of euros in federal funding.
Sources say Russia will gradually pull its troops out, although no timescale for withdrawal has been given.