Chechen guerrillas may have succeeded in downing two Russian helicopters three days before the referendum. The military lost radio contact with both MI-24 gunships on March 20, when they were escorting larger helicopters carrying Russian infantrymen on a combat mission. On that day the Ministry of Defense first tried to deny that the aircraft were missing, claiming that they had returned to base safely but behind schedule. On March 25, however, the Ministry admitted that the wreckage of one of the helicopters had been spotted from the air in the highlands of southeastern Chechnya. As of that day the second MI-24 was still missing.
Muslim endorsements for referendum.