Chechen rebels release the OSCE patrol on condition not to make details of their kidnapping public for two days

Chechen rebels "released the OSCE patrol on condition not to make details of their kidnapping public for two days," said Alexander Yakovenko, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was answering the questions of the press in connection with the incident involving OSCE observers which took place on September 20th at the Russian-Georgian border.

According to the information from the Foreign Ministry, the OSCE representatives did not dare violate the demands of the rebels for security reasons. The Russian Foreign Ministry is currently trying to find out why the OSCE headquarters released the information on the incident only three days later.

The statement of the OSCE observers circulated on September 23rd says that "the OSCE Sno base patrol, consisting of an Englishman and a Turk, was detained on September 20th by a group of 12 unidentified armed people," reminded Yakovenko.

Further in the document there is information that "53 minutes later, the OSCE observers were released and returned to the base having noticed several hiding-places." According to the statement, the aforementioned incident "took place one kilometre south of the frontier at the western part of the Ingushetia area of the Georgian-Russian border." Ingushetia is a North Caucasian republic, next to Chechnya.

The present statement is the first official OSCE evidence of the presence of "unidentified armed persons" on the Georgian territory." Until now the observers "failed to notice" anything, Yakovenko stressed.

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