One of Russia’ most famous Afghan war veterans, Col. Valery Radchikov, has been charged with masterminding the explosion that killed 14 people and wounded 50 in a Moscow cemetery last November. Two Afghan veterans, accused of carrying out the blast on Radchikov’s orders, are also in detention. The two, who have not yet been identified, are said to have confessed, but Radchikov is protesting his innocence.
Radchikov, who lost both feet in a landmine explosion in Afghanistan in 1982, set up a veterans’ support group, the Russian Fund for Invalids of the Afghan War in 1991. Internal feuding soon split the fund split into two branches, one headed by Radchikov and the other headed by his former deputy, Mikhail Likhodei, who accused Radchikov of stealing the funds. President Yeltsin had granted the organization tax breaks to import alcohol and cigarettes free of duty. The profits were supposed to be spent on housing and medical care, but the business was so lucrative that organized crime soon muscled in. Likhodei was assassinated in a bomb blast in November, 1994, and Radchikov survived an assassination attempt in October 1995. Last November’s blast, which killed Likhodei’s successor, is believed to have been an attempt to remove the Likhodei group from control of the organization. If the prosecution goes ahead, it will be one of the first instances in Russia when alleged perpetrators of a gangland killing have been brought to trial for a contract killing. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, May 16; Daily Telegraph, May 17)
Ukrainian-U.S. Relations Advance Across the Board.