Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 115

Two more Russian journalists were kidnapped yesterday in Chechnya. The two men, reporter Ilyas Bogatyrev and cameraman Vladislav Chernyaev, work for the popular TV program "Vzglyad." They were seized by unidentified men in broad daylight in the center of the Chechen capital. This is far from Bogatyrev’s first such experience: a journalist who specializes in reporting on kidnappings, he was himself held hostage for several weeks in Chechnya last year. Last month, he created a sensation by interviewing four Radio Russia and Itar-Tass journalists who were being held in captivity in Chechnya. The four have since been released but Bogatyrev’s unauthorized activities infuriated the Chechen authorities at the time. (ORT, June 11)

The Chechen leadership reacted angrily yesterday to this latest incident. Only the day before, Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov had ordered an unidentified Chechen field commander immediately to free the three NTV journalists who have been in captivity since March. Chechen presidential spokesman Kazbek Khadjiev accused Bogatyrev yesterday of being in the pay of the Russian secret police. He said the Chechen authorities had told Bogatyrev not to return to Chechnya and warned him that they could not answer for his safety if he did so. (ORT, June 11)

It was also reported from Chechnya yesterday that the imam of the Djohar-gala mosque, Khasanbek Yakhyaev, was shot dead in the street outside his house earlier in the week. (Itar-Tass, June 11) According to news reports, Yakhyaev’s relatives caught the killer, took him to the scene of the crime and executed him themselves. Local police said the incident was not religiously motivated, but the deceased imam’s relatives alleged that the murderer identified himself as a Wahabi. Wahabism is increasingly portrayed in Chechnya as a foreign implant that threatens to undermine the power and status of the local Muslim clergy.

Russia Urges Austria to Forego NATO Membership.