The bandits who kidnapped and later decapitated four Western engineers working with the British company Granger Telecom are demanding US$2,000 ransom for each of the bodies. Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin commented on the ransom demand: “These bandits have lost the elementary sense of morals, and even more so, [the sense of] honor of mountain peoples, and so the conversation with them must be short.” It will not, however, be possible to bring such criminals to justice soon, inasmuch as the Chechen authorities have halted all operations against criminals until the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan. The Russian law enforcement agencies will effectively be unable to operate on Chechen territory without the permission of the authorities in Djohar (Kommersant daily, December 22). The British Embassy in Moscow said it knew nothing about “the supposed demands by Chechen bandits” that US$2,000 apiece be paid for the bodies of the three Britons and one New Zealander. An embassy official said British diplomats did not want to comment on such reports in the media until they had received confirmation from official Russian sources (Nezavisimaya gazeta, December 22).
REGIONAL ORGANIZATION OR IMPOSED UNISON?