There is still no proof that the Mi-8 helicopter with Interior Force servicemen aboard has been shot down in Chechnya by a surface-to-air missile. This information was disclosed by officials of Stanislav Ilyasov's, the head of the Chechen government, staff.
At the same time, RIA Novosti's source reported that experts of the Russian Interior Ministry, Chechen Department of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Chechen Prosecutor's office who are currently working at the scene, will consider all possible versions.
The source stated making reference to experts' data, that according to eyewitnesses, smoke was first to appear from the helicopter, then it caught fire and subsequently crashed into the field and exploded.
On Sunday, the day of the accident, the weather was sunny and the helicopter was three kilometres away from the landing site when it crashed.
Fourteen people died in the explosion including Lieutenant-General Mikhail Rudchenko, the Deputy Interior Minister and the head of the Main Department of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Southern Federal district, Lieutenant-General Nikolai Garidov, the First Deputy Commander of the Russian Interior Force, and Colonel Yuri Orlenko, the Deputy Commander of the Joint Group of Forces in Chechnya representing the Russian Interior Ministry.
The explosion also claimed the lives of the officials' guard, aides and the helicopter's crew. All bodies have been evacuated from the scene and delivered to a hospital in Khankala.
More than 3,500 people were detained during unprecedented mass protests that swept across all of Russia in support of Alexey Navalny on January 23