Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 28

Kenneth Gluck, the American aid worker who was recently released from captivity in Chechnya, has essentially denied the Federal Security Service (FSB) assertion that he was freed as the result of a special operation. Gluck, who works for the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders, told a press conference in Moscow yesterday that on the day of his release his captors put a hat on his face and took him to the village of Starye Atagi, after which he was taken out of the car. A while later someone approached him and took the hat off of his face. This turned out to be a surgeon with whom he had worked. Gluck also reported that his captors had treated him humanely: explaining that at the time of his capture he had anti-asthma medicine with him, and that his captors gave him more later; and that just prior to his release, his captors apologized for the abduction, which they called a mistake, and said they had been ordered to free him. Gluck refused to comment on media theories that the FSB had kidnapped him, saying that he was too tired to draw such serious conclusions (Russian agencies, AP, February 8; see also the Monitor, February 6).

The situation in Chechnya, meanwhile, remains tense. Agence France Presse, citing representatives of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, reported that two Russian servicemen were killed and twelve wounded in fighting yesterday, while one rebel was killed and another wounded. According to unconfirmed reports, twenty-two people were detained in Kurchaloe and Vedeno on suspicion of belong to the rebels. A car carrying Sergei Artemov, head of the press service of the Russian forces in Chechnya, was shot up on the outskirts of Gudermes. Artemov received a head trauma in the incident. The Russian air force bombed suspected Chechen rebel positions in the regions of Vedeno, Sharoya and Itum-Kale. A bomb exploded in the interregional courthouse located in the center of the town of Shali. No one was hurt in the bombing (Radio Liberty, Agence France Presse, February 8).