Chechnya Kidnappers Release Two Russians

Kidnappers in Chechnya freed two abducted Russians on Wednesday after the republic’s separatist leaders intervened to help win their release, Russia’s military command said.

Oleg Malyshev, a regional official from the Russian region of Volgograd, and his driver were abducted Sunday during a trip to negotiate refugee voting in Chechnya’s Jan. 27 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Separatist leaders worked with Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s representatives in the republic to secure the men’s release, the military command said. It did not identify the kidnappers.

A cease-fire signed in August by separatist fighters and Russian leaders has largely held; Russian troops are withdrawing from Chechnya and effectively leaving the rebels in charge. Tensions have increased in recent weeks, however, with killings and kidnappings on the rise again.

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