Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 19

In the meantime, Vsevolod Chernov, Chechnya’s chief prosecutor, reported on January 27 that law enforcement bodies had detained one person suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of Kenneth Gluck, the aid worker with the group Doctors Without Borders who was kidnapped in the village of Stary Atagi on January 9. Chernov said that the suspect was arrested in connection with the murder of a Chechen family in the village of Alkha-Yurt last December 10, but that he is suspected of having been involved in both the kidnapping and other crimes. The prosecutor also said that the authorities had established with certainty that Gluck was kidnapped by Chechen rebels, despite other theories which have appeared in the media. Some media quoted anonymous aid workers as saying they suspected that Russian military forces had kidnapped Gluck.

Today, the Russian military made more specific allegations concerning the identity of Gluck’s captors. General Valery Baranov, commander of the Russian forces in Chechnya, claimed that Gluck was being held by a Chechen rebel field commander named Yakub. Baranov said that intermediaries had held initial talks with Gluck’s captors, who, he said, had made neither political demands nor suggested an exchange, but had simply asked for ransom. Baranov, who stressed that Russian military was not involved in these negotiations, said the situation involving Gluck was very serious, and that his captors could resort to extreme measures. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman on Chechnya, said today that no ransom would be paid for Gluck. “The state, as a rule, is trying to avoid any kind of compensation, inasmuch as this is a direct factor in encouraging those who kidnap people with the goal of receiving a ransom (Russian agencies, January 28-29).