Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 135

There has been no let-up in the spate of kidnappings in and around Chechnya. Yesterday, two Russian construction workers from Kursk oblast were seized on the road near Djohar-gala; the day before, a Slovak citizen working as a driver was abducted in Ingushetia. Dozens of people, including four foreigners, are now being held for ransom. Chechnya yesterday threatened to send troops to North Ossetia to rescue four Chechens abducted there earlier in the week.

Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov has reportedly come under pressure from within his own government to respond to the wave of abductions by declaring presidential rule, and incorporating elements of martial or emergency law. Maskhadov has so far rejected this option, saying the crime problem can be solved "only within the framework of the constitution and existing laws." (Russian agencies, AP, July 9-10) A week ago, Maskhadov promised to set up a special squad with "unlimited powers" to track down kidnappers. He has already decreed that convicted kidnappers will suffer the death penalty, but the introduction of both capital punishment and the amputation of the hands of thieves is being delayed by an absence of legislation stipulating how sentences are to be carried out and who will support amputees rendered incapable of earning a living.

Shamil Basaev Quits Chechen Government, Security Chief May Follow.