Moscow and Djohar-gala are both investigating the charges by NTV president Igor Malashenko and Security Council deputy secretary Boris Berezovsky that ransoms were paid for the five Russian journalists freed from captivity in Chechnya this week. (See Monitor, August 21) Yesterday, President Yeltsin met the five journalists to find out the details of their release firsthand. (NTV, August 21) The Chechen authorities are no less active. President Maskhadov yesterday interviewed the head of Chechnya’s special anti-kidnapping brigade, Magomed Magomadov, who claims it was his men, not the federal forces, who liberated the five journalists. Maskhadov authorized Magomadov to send a group of investigators to Moscow to question the journalists and other Russian officials who claim that ransoms were paid to release the film crews. Also yesterday, there were unconfirmed reports that the Chechen kidnappers of a Slovak builder, abducted in Ingushetia, have demanded a ransom of $150,000 for his release. Five French citizens, two Britons, and a German remain missing in Chechnya. (Russian agencies, August 21)
Shakeup of the Arms Traders.