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Russia: Two Local Employees Of OSCE Chechnya Mission Kidnapped

Grozny, 26 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Itar-Tass reports that two members of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe's mission in the Chechen capital, Grozny were kidnapped today by unknown assailants.

The German DPA news agency quoted the OSCE mission chief, Tim Guldimann, as saying in a telephone interview that the two men were local employees of the OSCE.

Tass, quoting a spokesman at Chechnya's Interior Ministry, said the two OSCE workers were forced from their car, which bore clear OSCE markings, into another vehicle and driven off.

While Chechen separatist police authorities said they regarded the action as a "political provocation," Guldimann said it was likely the kidnappers had criminal motives. Guldimann said it is the first time OSCE workers have been abducted in breakaway Chechnya.

In a separate development, a Russian military spokesman told Interfax news agency that the withdrawal of the army's 205th Brigade will begin next Sunday. Under a decree signed by President Boris Yeltsin over the weekend, the two remaining Russian brigades in Chechnya are to be withdrawn.