Suspected 1995 Budyonnovsk Hostage-taker to Go on Trial

MOSCOW, November 9 (RIA Novosti) – A suspected member of a militant group that attacked a southern Russian town in 1995 will go on trial in Stavropol, a spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee said on Friday.


Moulda Khabayev faces charges of banditry and terrorism and may be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty.


“The case has been sent to court,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.


On June 14, 1995, a group of almost 200 militants led by notorious North Caucasus warlord Shamil Basayev attacked the town of Budyonnovsk in southern Russia’s Stavropol Territory. The gunmen took over 1,600 residents hostage and held them in a local hospital for five days. More than 100 people were killed on the way to the hospital.


On June 17, 1995, at around 5 a.m. the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian Interior Ministry made an attempt to storm the hospital. The gunmen pushed women, children and elderly persons to the windows and used them as human shields while firing at soldiers and police. A total of 61 hostages were freed during the operation.


After the assault ended, the Russian government held talks with Basayev in an effort to release the remaining hostages. As a result, an agreement was reached to provide Basayev’s group transport and safe passage to Chechnya.


On June 19, 1995, most of the hostages were released except for 123 volunteers who agreed to accompany Basayev’s group to Chechnya, including 20 journalists and three Russian lawmakers representing the Budyonnovsk and Stavropol territorial administration. The militants released them upon reaching Chechnya on June 20.


A total of 129 people, including 18 police officers and 17 servicemen, died during the hostage crisis, and 415 others were injured, according to Stavropol Territory’s FSB department.


The prosecutor’s office in the Southern Federal District said in 2005 that Budyonnovsk was attacked by a group of 195 militants. As of mid-2005, 30 of them had been killed and 20 convicted.


Basayev, who masterminded and led the attack, was killed in an explosion in Ingushetia on July 10, 2006.


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