Russian interior minister Anatoly Kulikov says his ministry’s main task in connection with the Russian-Chechen peace treaty is to provide assistance to Chechnya’s law enforcement agencies. According to the minister, this includes improving the crime situation, creating a working system to fight terrorism, freeing all hostages on the territory of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria, and developing joint mechanisms to monitor the use of money allotted from the federal budget for the reconstruction of the Chechen economy. (Interfax, May 19)
There is plenty of room for cooperation between Russian and Chechen law enforcement agencies. Ilya Bogatyrev, the correspondent from the "Vzglyad" TV program who last week interviewed the Radio Russia and Itar-Tass journalists being held captive in Chechnya, points out that it was the kidnappers’ representatives in Moscow who first contacted him, not he who contacted them. Had there been effective cooperation between law enforcement agencies in Russia and Chechnya, the search for the kidnappers might have been speeded up.
Meanwhile, the lives of the Russian journalists presently missing in Chechnya are in real danger. The kidnappers have threatened to behead one of the hostages if a ransom is not paid within ten days of the May 17 screening of the "Vzglyad" interview. (Itogi, Moskovskie novosti, May 20) But the chairman of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company and the general director of Itar-Tass have issued a statement rejecting as "frivolous and ill-considered" an appeal by prominent Russian human rights activists for them to pay the ransom being demanded. (Ekho Moskvy, May 17)
Crisis in Primorsky Krai Defused.