Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 114

It took five days for agents from the North Ossetian and Ingush Interior Ministries to secure the release of five Ingush hostages seized on a bus bound for Ossetia’s capital Nalchik from the Ingush capital Nazran (see the Monitor, June 10). The five were freed as a goodwill gesture by relatives of six young Ossetians who had been kidnapped on June 5. In turn, the just-released Ingush promised to try to secure the release of the Ossetians, whose whereabouts are unknown. After the hostages were released, Presidents Aleksandr Dzasokhov of North Ossetia and Ruslan Aushev of Ingushetia met at the airport in the North Ossetian city, Beslan. There they signed a statement promising to coordinate their efforts to prevent new kidnappings. Aushev said only the joint efforts of the Ossetian and Ingush sides can stop criminals who are deliberately inciting conflict between the two republics. He blamed the kidnappings on what he said is a large criminal network that includes Ossetians, Ingush, Chechens and Kabardins. For this network, kidnapping is a lucrative business, both financially and politically, Aushev said. (Itar-Tass, June 13) It is doubtful, however, whether North Ossetia and Ingushetia are powerful enough to stamp out this trade in human life. The very day that Aushev and Dzasokhov issued their statement, three more hostages were seized–this time, Ossetians. (RTR, June 13)

Meanwhile, Chechnya’s acting Premier Shamil Basaev told a press conference on June 12 that measures against kidnappers should be “commensurate in cruelty and severity with their own actions.” He suggested kidnappers’ relatives should be detained until the hostages were freed. Basaev was also quoted as saying that the fight against kidnappers was of such importance that it was permissible “to dispense with legal formalities.” Chechnya’s Deputy Prosecutor General Magomed Magomadov, however, was quoted the same day as saying that it was Chechnya’s lack of a criminal code and code of criminal procedure that was hampering efforts to crack down on with serious crime. (Russian agencies, June 12)