Crash of Mi-8 helicopter of federal troops in Chechnya said to be act of terrorism

A Mi-8 helicopter belonging to the federal troops crashed four kilometers from Shelkovskaya stanitsa in Chechnya on Sunday. Fourteen people died, high-ranking officers of the Interior Ministry and Russian army among them. The Chechen Ministry for Press and Information reports, the officers were on their regular work trip from Khankala to Shelkovskaya stanitsa. Two versions of the accident – an act of terrorism and technical failures on board – are being considered now.

Yesterday the administration of the Shelkovskaya district in Chechnya put forward a version that the helicopter could have been destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. The version is based upon information provided by the investigating groups operating on the accident site. Exterior damages have been found on the helicopter’s skin. Experts say, the explosion occurred from the outside of the helicopter, that may also be a missile from land.

The second version of the accident is a fire on board. Today Deputy Envoy of the President to the South Federal district Nikolay Britvin says, there are no evidences of the helicopter having been hit by a missile. ITAR-TASS reports, Nikolay Britvin thinks, evidences reveal, it was an accident. A fire blazed up on approaching the Shelkovskaya stanitsa, and then an explosion sounded.

Russia’s Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs, head of the General Department of the Interior Ministry in the South Federal district lieutenant-general Mikhail Rudchenko and second commander-in-chief of internal troops Maj.-Gen. Nikolay Goridov, representative of the United group of the federal forces in the Northern Caucasia colonel Orlenko, colonels Stepanenko and Trofimenko, three bodyguards and the crew died in the accident.

An investigating group operates on the accident site now. Officers of Russia’s Internal Ministry headed by colonel-general Vyacheslav Tikhonov are members of the group. Earliest results of the investigation are expected to be published today.

But now a terrorism version is considered to be the basic one. A criminal case on the article #205 part 3 of the Russian Criminal Code (“terrorism”) has been instituted by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Shelkovskaya district, the department of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office in the Northern Caucasia reports. Deputy Public Prosecutor for the South Federal district Vladimir Kravchenko undertook control over the investigation.

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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