Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 19

Chechen field commander Hunkar Israpilov has sharply criticized Salman Raduyev’s performance as commander of the Chechen detachment that recently seized hostages and battled Russian forces in Dagestan. Israpilov said that he took over command of the operation from Raduyev after the latter failed in his mission to destroy the Russian airbase in Kyzlar. The decision to take hostages, said Israpilov, was made en route to Kyzlar after the Chechen detachment intercepted Russian military communications indicating advance knowledge of its plan to enter the town. Israpilov said he commanded the detachment during the battle in Pervomaiskoye, drawing on his year-long experience of defending detachments against encircling forces. Recounting Chechen fighters’ breakout from encirclement with the aid of a relief detachment, Israpilov said Russian forces engaged in offensive combat were usually vulnerable in the rear. (7)

Meanwhile, the exchange of hostages taken in Dagestan for the bodies of Chechen fighters killed there continued yesterday in the town of Novogrozensk in eastern Chechnya. Novogrozensk is the current site of the headquarters of Chechen forces’ chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov. Hostages interviewed upon their release said they had been treated well by their Chechen captors and that their lives had been threatened by the Russian bombardment of Pervomaiskoye. A few said they feared Russian authorities would investigate and punish them on suspicion of collusion with their captors (certain hostages who escaped alive in Pervomaiskoye were taken directly to Russian filtration centers). Maskhadov and Raduyev said in media interviews that Russian hostages taken in Chechnya itself would be exchanged for Chechen fighters in Russian captivity, as well as for Chechen inmates of Russian filtration centers. (8)

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