Russian prosecutor general Yuri Skuratov has opened a criminal case on the disappearance in Chechnya of ORT reporters Roman Perevezentsev and Vyacheslav Tibelius. (NTV, January 21) The journalists disappeared on January 19 while on their way to Nazran, capital of Ingushetia, after a meeting with rogue Chechen field commander Salman Raduev. All that is known is that they did not cross the border from Chechnya into Ingushetia.
During the 21-month war, sixteen journalists were killed or disappeared without trace in Chechnya. But this is the first time journalists have disappeared since hostilities ended. Two alternative explanations are being examined: the journalists may have been kidnapped by common criminals, or by people keen to create tension in Chechnya on the eve of the elections. (NTV, January 21)
Chechnya’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) is conducting its own investigation and seems likely to conclude that the Russian special services were involved. This is also the conclusion the Chechen authorities have reached in the case of the six Red Cross workers murdered late last year. MSS chairman Abu Movsaev has told journalists that the Chechen authorities know the murderers’ identities and that the killers are all now outside Chechnya, in Russia proper. Movsaev also produced an agent of the Russian special services, who claimed that Moscow is sending special brigades to Chechnya to carry out kidnappings and destabilize the situation. (NTV, January 21)
Playing the "Cossack Card."