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Chechnya: Separatists Blame Russian Forces For Gluck Kidnapping

Chechnya, 5 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen separatists have welcomed the release of U.S. aid worker Kenneth Gluck, and said Russian security forces were responsible for the kidnapping last month in Chechnya. A statement today from Chechen separatist President Aslan Maskhadov said Russian forces kidnapped Gluck -- who worked for Doctors Without Borders -- on January 10 in order to "vilify" and discredit the separatist movement. In the statement, Maskhadov vowed to assist human rights groups in their efforts to aid the breakaway republic, and guaranteed the safety of any organization that helps Chechnya's civilians.

Russian news agencies yesterday reported that agents of the domestic intelligence agency, the FSB, liberated Gluck. A number of international aid agencies suspended humanitarian operations in Chechnya following Gluck's abduction. Interfax reports that at least 10 people were injured early today when a bus hit a mine in Grozny, the capital of the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

The news agency's report, which cites the mayor's office, said the bus came from the Chechen town of Aul and was making its way to the city center when it hit the mine.

Chechen fighters have been laying mines during the night as a part of their guerrilla war against Russian soldiers in Chechnya.