Did a US journalist vanish in North Ossetia?

North Ossetian law-enforcement agencies don't confirm reports about a US lady journalist, who allegedly disappeared in Mozdok February 8. (North Ossetia is a North Caucasian republic; Mozdok is a city in the republic's northern area not far from the administrative border with Chechnya - Ed.) All journalists, who arrive in Mozdok, have to register accordingly; this is particularly true of foreigners, Ismel Shaov, chief of the North Ossetian interior ministry's press center, told RIA-Novosti. However, registration lists mentioned no US journalists over the last 5-6 days.

Talking to RIA-NOVOSTI, people at the republican emergency-situations ministry, as well as officials from the Russian President's special mission in North Ossetia and Ingushetia, noted that they knew nothing about a US journalist, who was allegedly missing in Mozdok.

A US Embassy press release, which was received by RIA-NOVOSTI here today, notes that the US reporter had vanished in the vicinity of Mozdok February 8, 2004.

The US Embassy has already sent an official appeal to the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, also informing the national Interior Ministry about the missing journalist, the statement reads in part.

However, the US Embassy declined to say anything about the missing correspondent, citing a law, which expressly forbids anyone to disclose private-life information.

The missing journalist's name is Rebecca Santana, RIA-Novosti interlocutor at the Moscow city police department said.

A consul serving with the US Embassy in Moscow contacted the police in the evening of February 10, saying that journalist Rebecca Santana, 32, of the Cox news service had disappeared on Sunday, a city police-department spokesman noted.

Santana was representing the large Cox Newspapers company in Russia. This company has a daily print run of more than one million copies.

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