Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 11

For two consecutive days and nights, Russian forces have assaulted a Chechen detachment still holding more than 100 hostages in Dagestan’s village of Pervomaiskoye, located near the border with Chechnya. As of this morning, crack special units of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD) had not defeated the estimated 200 lightly armed Chechen fighters commanded by Salman Raduyev. FSB director General Mikhail Barsukov is personally commanding the operation, which has Army artillery and aviation support. Barsukov, MVD minister Kulikov, and other senior officials have indicated that their foremost priority is to destroy the terrorists while minimizing inevitable loss of life among the hostages. North Caucasus political and religious groups are warning that the disproportionate use of force and disregard for hostages’ lives may undermine Moscow’s position in the region and destabilize the situation outside Chechnya. In Moscow, groups across most of the political spectrum, particularly the democrats, are expressing concern that indiscriminate firing by Russian troops is endangering the hostages.

In Grozny yesterday, a group of Chechen fighters seized at least 30 hostages, all but two of them reportedly Russians from inner Russia employed at a power plant in Chechnya’s capital. Despite reinforced controls imposed by Russian troops in Grozny since the hostage crisis in Dagestan, the movements of the Chechen group and their captives in Grozny are unknown to the authorities.

Also yesterday, an unidentified armed group shouting pro-Chechen slogans seized an arriving Russian passenger ship in the Turkish Black Sea port of Trabzon and drove it back to sea with its 165 mostly Russian passengers and crew members. (2)

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