Stepashin said the Kremlin has no intention of paying ransom for the release of Valentin Vlasov, President Yeltsin’s representative in Chechnya who has been held hostage since May. According to Chechen Acting Prime Minister Shamil Basaev, the kidnappers have demanded US$6 million for his release. Hopes that Vlasov would soon be freed grew following the announcement that the Russian and Chechen investigators were to coordinate their search efforts. President’s Yeltsin’s representative to the CIS countries, Ivan Rybkin, fanned these hopes last week when he said encouraging information had been received concerning Vlasov’s fate. Rybkin did not, of course, provide any details. He noted only that, in the present situation, the Kremlin would not refuse any offer of assistance for the solution of the many problems in Chechnya. As an example, he cited two Russian politicians who had been involved in the peace process in Chechnya. (RTR, June 27)
LEBED LAUNCHES “PEACE MISSION” TO NORTH CAUCASUS.