The Supreme Court of North Ossetia (a North Caucasian republic of Russia) has started interrogating the witnesses and declaring their evidence at the trial of the gang that is charged with kidnapping. Press secretary of the court Natella Biragova said about this on Tuesday. Twelve people are in the dock. The gang includes Chechens, people from Ingushetia and two women from Kabardino-Balkaria (Russian Republic). The defendants are accused of attacking a car and taking five local people hostage in September 1998 in the settlement of Zilgi of North Ossetia's Pravoberezhny District. In September 1997 the criminals took hostage an officer of the North Ossetia's Interior Ministry. They received $25,000 for releasing him. During 1998 the gang kidnapped another six residents of the Republic. The hostages were kept in Ingushetia and in Grozny. Their relatives had to pay ransom to free them. Moreover, the accused are charged with being members of illegal armed formations, blackmailing and illegal arm possessing.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea