The group of Chechen fighters that seized the hospital in Kyzlyar, Dagestan yesterday were reported to number close to 500. After holding 2,000 people hostage for 24 hours and killing two of them, the rebels agreed to release most of the hostages in exchange for a safe corridor back to Chechnya. The detachment had originally demanded as the conditions for the hostages’ release the departure of Russian troops from Chechnya, and a meeting between Russian officials and ousted Chechnya president Dzhokhar Dudayev. The group traveled undetected from Chechnya through Russian-patrolled areas and attacked Kyzlar’s airport, railway station, and Russian troop barracks in the town early yesterday morning before Russian internal affairs and other troop reinforcements arrived in the town. Detachment commander Salman Raduyev, married to a relative of Dudayev, led one of the three Chechen units that fought in the December 1995 battle for the Chechen town of Gudermes.
The Russian authorities’ response to the crisis has been confused. Yeltsin sharply upbraided Russian border troops commander General Andrei Nikolaev yesterday for having failed to control borders and establish guard posts in the area. However, the Russian border troop command maintained that the internal affairs ministry was in charge of the Chechnya-Dagestan administrative border. The Russian army declined responsibility by claiming it had no units based in the vicinity. Yeltsin ordered an immediate investigation of official responsibility for the situation. (10).
Amid Confusion, Slavin Appointed Head Of Foreign Policy Council.