The helicopter crash killed over 100 military men
The crash of Mi-26 helicopter in Chechnya resulted in the death of 100 military men. This was reported by the headquarters of the Russian Armed Forces in the Northern Caucasus. the flight recorders have already been found at the site of the crash, although they were damaged by the fire on board the chopper.
Representatives of Chechen guerrillas rushed to claim responsibility for that horrific tragedy. One of them stated in an interview to the Echo of Moscow radio station that the helicopter was “downed with two missiles in the area of the town of Khankala." He also claimed that information on the helicopter's crash was made available on their web site allegedly an hour and a half before the actual crash.
However, a source at the Russian headquarters in the Northern Caucasus reported that there were several military men who saw the chopper being shelled from the ground. Pilots of ab Mi-8 helicopter (it was flying behind the Mi-26) said that they saw a trace of a missile in the air.
The governmental committee for the investigation believes that the major version of the incident is a technical malfunction on board the helicopter. It is only a supposition for the time being. Let’s hope that there will be something more certain to ponder over. President Putin ordered an investigation into the matter in the shortest amount of time possible, as well as instructions to to keep him informed regarding the investigation.
Speaking of Putin, PRAVDA.Ru has reported that Putin is gradually losing his authority among the Russian army in Chechnya (as well as among the majority of Russian people). The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper published the results of opinion polls in July. According to these polls, the president enjoys the support of only 18% of Russian military men. One may assume that this figure will decrease even further after the helicopter crash.
We have to say that Putin’s reaction was immediate. The president established a state committee the same day. Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov to leave for Khankala (Chechnya). Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov has also been sent there. This has been Russia's biggest losss since the cessation of military actions in Chechnya. The last time something on this scale happened was in February of 2000 in the Argun Gorge, when 84 commandos from Pskov died in a battle with Chechen gunmen. There are no longer large-scale military actions in Chechnya, but 150 Russian soldiers died in a blink of an eye. So, was this accidental or incidental?
Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov