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Russia: Babitsky Reportedly Being Flown To Moscow

Moscow, 28 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - Our correspondent in Daghestan reports that an RFE/RL correspondent who has been missing in Chechnya for six weeks has been put on a special flight tonight from Daghestan to Moscow. Neither the wife nor attorney of reporter Andrei Babitsky were informed in advance of the move by Russian authorities. Both remain in Daghestan. There is no immediate word on the status of legal charges against Babitsky for possessing a forged passport.

Babitsky was arrested in mid-January while reporting on the war in Chechnya. The Kremlin later claimed Babitsky was traded to Chechen separatists for Russian prisoners of war. Babitsky surfaced in Daghestan's capital, Makhachkala, on Friday.

Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier today that he saw no need for Babitsky's continued detention. Putin said authorities could question Babitsky outside of prison.

Babitsky was allowed to meet with his wife, Lyudmila, for the first time today since his initial arrest. Emerging from the meeting, she said her husband really wanted to return to their home in Moscow.