Five Polish aid workers were revealed yesterday to have been kidnapped in Chechnya, bringing to ten the number of foreign citizens being held hostage in the republic. (RTR, December 23)
Meanwhile, the British press reports that Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan has been trying to negotiate the release of two British medical workers — Camilla Carr and Jon James — who are being held captive in Chechnya. Khan went to Chechnya in October accompanied by Patrick Robertson, former PR assistant to the late Sir James Goldsmith, the British businessman and politician whose daughter Jemima is Khan’s wife. The Russian government is however said to have blocked Khan’s attempt to send four ex-SAS (Britain’s Special Air Service) commandos to Chechnya to rescue the British couple. Robertson visited Chechnya again in November, as the Monitor reported at the time, in connection with financing for the proposed Caucasus Common Market that Chechnya is interested in establishing with neighboring countries and republics. (Sunday Times, December 21; Private Eye, December 26)
Federal Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov speculated yesterday that Monday’s ambush by a group of armed Chechens of a Russian army base in Dagestan may have been intended to deter President Boris Yeltsin from making his planned visit to Chechnya. But Yeltsin’s spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, told journalists yesterday that preparations for the visit are continuing. (RTR, December 23)
Yeltsin Overrules Rutskoi.