The problem of coordinating the actions of local law enforcement agencies in the North Caucasus was discussed on February 11 in Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia. Representatives of Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Chechnya met at an expanded session of Ingushetia’s Security Council. According to Ingush President Ruslan Aushev, the North Caucasus will continue to be seen as a high risk area — and will also remain a recipient of subsidies and financial transfers — unless the situation in the region is brought under control.
Kidnapping for ransom remains a big problem. Investigators tend in such cases to look for a "Chechen trail." Chechen Vice Premier Kazbek Makhashev, however, has called such accusations unfair. He says that what is taking place in Chechnya today is nothing more than a consequence of the Russian-Chechen war. Nevertheless, virtually all of the hostages released so far had been held on Chechen territory. The only instance in which the kidnappers have been caught — in cases involving journalists and foreigners — was during the recent rescue of five Polish aid workers. (See Monitor, February 10)
Participants of the Ingushetian Security Council session proposed increasing the punishment for kidnapping to death and introducing appropriate changes in the Russian Criminal Code. (RTR, February 11)
Russian Government Cautiously Hopeful that Economic Growth Can be Maintained.