Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 23

On June 14, Budennovsk marked the tenth anniversary of the hostage-taking raid led by Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev, Russian news agencies reported. According to MosNews, residents of the southern Russian town laid wreaths at monuments to local police officers, who were the first to confront the rebels as they stormed into the city dressed in Russian army uniforms. On June 14, 1995, Basaev’s forces seized a large hospital and held more than 1,800 hostages for six days, demanding a cease-fire, an end to the war and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya. Fighting between the raiders and security forces left 129 people dead, including 18 Russian policemen and 17 soldiers, and more than 400 people wounded. Following negotiations with then Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Basaev and his men were allowed to retreat safely back to Chechnya. Basaev and his men then escaped back into Chechnya, using some of the hostages as human shields.

A source in the main directorate of the federal Prosecutor General’s Office in the Southern Federal District told RIA Novosti on June 13 that during the ten years since the Budennovsk raid, 30 rebels who participated in it have been killed while another 20 participants have been captured and sentenced to long prison terms. According to prosecutors, another 40 participants in the raid remain on the federal wanted list. Investigators believe a total of 195 rebels took part in the raid.

On June 13, Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin, who was head of the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK) during the Budennovsk raid, told Channel One television that the raiders had originally planned to seize an airplane in the town of Mineralnye Vody and fly it into the Kremlin in a suicide attack similar to 9/11. Stepashin claimed that Basaev got cold feet and then seized the hospital in Budennovsk.

The separatist Chechenpress information agency on June 14 called the Budennovsk raid a “successful operation” that forced the Russian authorities “to listen to the Chechen resistance and start the process of peaceful resolution of the Russian-Chechen war of the 1994-1996 period.”