Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree declaring August 22 a mourning day in Russia in connection with the MI-26 helicopter catastrophe in Chechnya. According to the Kremlin press service, the decree declared:
"The catastrophe of a MI-26 combat helicopter which happened on August 19, 2002 in the Chechen Republic claimed numerous casualties.
Grieving for the dead and expressing condolences to their near and dear I resolve:
1. To declare August 22 2002 a mourning day in the Russian Federation.
2. On the mourning day to lower national flags of the Russian Federation throughout the country.
3. To recommend cultural institutions and TV and radio companies to cancel entertainment programs and events during the mourning day.
4. The government of the Russian Federation along with the security agencies of the constituent subjects of the Russian Federation to take measures to provide assistance to the families of the victims."
Russia's Ambassador to Belarus, Mikhail Babich, said that Moscow would treat any military intervention in the affairs of Belarus as an attack on Russia