Russian officialscannot seem to get their stories straight on the hostage-taking at Budennovsk, NTV complained June 22. Yeltsinsecurity aide Oleg Lobov told Ostankino television June 24that there had been 120 Chechens involved, contradictingGen. Anatoly Kulikov’s statement of the day before that only92 had participated in the raid. Lobov also said that therewas no evidence that the Chechens had bribed their way intothe city, while Ostankino reported June 23 that the localmilitary prosecutors were opening cases against militiamenfor accepting bribes. Russian television reported on June 23that the prosecutors had also opened a case against aRussian guard for killing journalist Natalya Alyakina, eventhough Moscow officials had earlier blamed her death on theChechens. And Lobov said that the hospital could have beenstormed, while participants in the Alfa unit which hadattacked the hospital said that their effort was doomed fromthe start, Kuranty reported June 23. Segodnya on June 23denounced the authorities for lying about the crisis and forcovering up their earlier claims about the number ofhostages involved. And most dramatically of all, the editorof Moscow News charged that the Russian security serviceshad links with Shamil Basayev, the leader of the Chechenraid, and thus had gone easy on him in Budennovsk.
“Hostage” Journalists Given Awards.