The two British aid workers, Camilla Carr and Jon James, arrived back in Britain last night after being released from fourteen months’ captivity in Chechnya. The two had been working with war-traumatized children when they were abducted in July 1997. They told a news conference in Moscow yesterday that they believed their kidnapping was financially motivated, but that they held no grudges against their captors–who had, they said, been psychologically damaged by Russia’s 1994-96 war against Chechnya (BBC, September 20).
British officials say no ransom money was offered but British Ambassador Sir Andrew Wood said a central role in the release was played by Russian financier Boris Berezovsky. Berezovsky told the BBC he had not paid any money: He is, however, believed to have paid ransom in the past to free other hostages held in Chechnya.
Two Russian soldiers taken captive in Chechnya during the war were also released yesterday. By comparison with the media coverage given to Carr and James, their release was barely noted on Russian TV (NTV, RTR, BBC, September 20). Only one foreigner–a French aid worker–is still being held hostage in Chechnya, but a number of Russians, including President Yeltsin’s personal envoy, remain in captivity.
MUSLIM LEADER LOSES IMMUNITY.