Abdul-Malik Mezhidov, an associate of Ruslan Gelayev and an international terrorist, who led the invasion of bandits in Ingushetia (a Russian Federation constituent in the North Caucasus) from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge is implicated in the kidnapping and death of general Gennady Shpigun, a special representative of the Russian Interior Ministry in Chechnya.
The Russian president's information department told RIA Novosti on Friday referring to data of Russian special services that Abdul-Malik had personally headed the kidnapping of Gennady Shpigun at the airport of Grozny (Chechnya's capital) on March 5, 1999.
Interior Ministry special representative Gennady Shpigun was kidnapped from the plane when it was taxiing to the flight strip. The masked bandits penetrated into the plane through the luggage compartment and ran away with the captured general. According to the department officials, Russian special services have information that the operation was led by Mezhidov.
Mezhidov was an accomplice of such terrorists as Khattab and Basayev, and under Maskhadov's rule he commanded a troop which ransacked areas neighbouring on Chechnya. Mezhidov and his close associates "specialised" in kidnapping. This "business" linked Mezhidov and Arbi Barayev. One of Mezhidov's "prisons" was in the Alkhan-Kala village. The Russian soldiers kidnapped from Dagestan (another Russian Federation constituent in the North Caucasus) were kept there in winter and spring 1998.
Law-enforcers conducted a permanent search of the Interior Ministry special representative, but all attempts to set him free proved futile. The bandits constantly changed the general's whereabouts, which obstructed the search.
Numerous versions of what happened with the general are considered now. According to one of them, Shpigun, weakened by the captivity, did not survive the passage through mountains and died of heart failure. According to another one, Shpigun managed to escape, but he got lost in the mountains and got starved and frostbitten to death on his way to the Russian army units.
The body of an unknown hostage was found in a mass grave in Chechnya in March 2000. The Russian centre of forensic expertise examined tissue samples of the body and concluded that the dead person was Gennady Shpigun.
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