The Chechen authorities anticrime mobilization plans were probably spurred, in part, by the Russian special forces’ success Saturday (December 12) in freeing from captivity Vincent Cochetel, a UN refugee worker. The hostage rescue took place in Ingushetia, near its border with Chechnya. The kidnappers had reportedly demanded a ransom of between US$2 and US$5 million. Cochetel was reportedly freed when the Russian commandos opened fire on his captors at the site of a planned ransom-hostage swap. Three of the kidnappers were killed in the operation, parts of which were filmed and showed on Russian television channels (Russian agencies, December 12). The Chechen authorities have been stung by the fact that the Moscow has been much more successful in freeing victims of hostage-taking, and the botched attempt last week to free four Western hostages, who were subsequently murdered, severely undermined the authority of Aslan Maskhadov’s government. Chechen government spokesmen have claimed that the Russian authorities pay ransoms, creating an incentive for further hostage-taking. Meanwhile, in the wake of the Russian special forces’ success on Saturday, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Turpal Atgeriev said Chechnya’s special forces intended to conduct anticrime operations in Russia, claiming that most hostages were located “on Russian territory.”
CHECHEN AUTHORITIES VOW “DECISIVE BATTLE” AGAINST CRIME.