Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin told the Ekho Moskvy radio station yesterday that "undue fuss" over the four Russian journalists kidnapped in Chechnya has delayed their release. He said preliminary agreement had been reached to exchange the journalists for Chechens being held in Russian prisons, but that negotiations failed as a result of the hullabaloo over the issue. Rybkin said 568 people have been released from captivity in Chechnya over the last few months. He appealed to Russian soldiers who are now in Chechnya not to be afraid to return home, reminding them that the amnesty promulgated by the Russian Duma includes deserters. In Rybkin’s estimation, about 300 of the 1,000 Russians listed as missing in Chechnya are still alive. (Ekho Moskvy, March 26)
…Says Oil Shipments Bypassing Russia Would Harm Russian and Chechen Economies.