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Death toll in Grozny bombing rises to 80...

The number of victims of the 27 December car-bomb attack on the government building in Grozny has risen to 80, dpa and other news agencies reported on 30 December. Some 150 people were injured. Several Chechen administration officials were reportedly injured in the attack, including Deputy Prime Minister Zina Batyzheva and Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudaev. A chechenpress.com report that Dudaev died in the attack has not been confirmed.

...as Chechen, Russian officials condemn incompetence...

Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov said on 27 December that the bombing was the result of inadequate security precautions, Interfax reported. Russian presidential representative to the South Russia Federal District Viktor Kazantsev likewise claimed that "irresponsibility" on the part of the Chechen government ministry charged with security made the blast possible, but at the same time predicted that "the crime will be solved very soon." Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergei Fridinskii said on 29 December that investigators have established that security regulations at the government building were violated, Interfax reported. He added that those deemed responsible for security lapses will face criminal charges. "This tragedy again clearly demonstrates that Kadyrov's team has no control over the situation in the republic or in the center of Grozny," "Novye izvestiya" editorialized on 28 December.

...and disagree over identities of bombers

The Foreign Ministry and presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Abdul-Khakim Sultygov both blamed the Grozny bombing on "international terrorists" intent on undermining President Vladimir Putin's efforts to resolve the Chechen conflict, Interfax reported. Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, who is a spokesman for the joint federal forces in Chechnya, told ORT on 27 December the bombing was organized by Chechen field commanders Abu al-Walid and Shamil Basaev. Shabalkin had told Interfax on 24 December that the two commanders were planning "large-scale attacks" in Grozny and elsewhere. Administration head Kadyrov, for his part, accused Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov of masterminding the attack, Reuters reported on 28 December. But Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Akhmed Dakaev told Interfax the three men who drove the two trucks did not seem to belong to any Caucasian ethnic group, while Interior Minister Ruslan Tsakaev said on 29 December that two of them were fair-haired and that all spoke Russian without accents. Dakaev said the trucks displayed on their windshields official passes similar to those issued by the Russian military, that the drivers had other documentation apparently issued by the Chechen administration, and that they drove to Grozny from Nadterechnyi Raion in northwestern Chechnya passing through three checkpoints en route.

(RFE/RL 30.xii.02)

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