The Main Directorate for Security in the Caucasus of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has announced a warrant for the arrest of Chechen field commander Ruslan Khaikharoev. He is accused of kidnapping twenty-four citizens of North Ossetia and two officials of the International Orthodox Center. He has already received $1.7 million in ransom for seventeen of the citizens, and is demanding an additional $1.5 million for the officials. (Kommersant-daily, April 14)
Khaikharoev is one of the most notorious Chechen field commanders, known for his cruelty during the war. While leading the defense of Bamut, he announced that he would shoot five Russian prisoners of war each time the city was shelled. Human rights activist Sergei Kovalev succeeded in dissuading him from that. Khaikharoev is also suspected of being responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizen Fred Cuny (who led a humanitarian mission in Chechnya and was last seen near Bamut) and "Nevskoe vremya" correspondents Maksim Shablin and Feliks Titov. According to the Vorokov brothers, who are in custody for a bus bombing in Nalchik (six people were killed and twenty-three wounded), it was Khaikharoev who organized the attack.
This accusation of kidnapping against Khaikharoev is interesting as it is the first time that these charges have been made against an individual rather than an "armed group." It may be seen as a precedent. If Moscow presents accusations, backed by evidence, against individuals, it could stimulate the Chechen authorities to launch a fight against the kidnappers, in order to protect its image in the eyes of the world community.
Former Grozny Mayor Says that Money Sent for Restoration of Chechnya Is Being Embezzled.