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Chechen Friendly- Fire Trial Begins

Published: January 22, 2002 (Issue # 738)


Two of the three Interior Ministry officers accused of negligence in the friendly fire deaths of 22 OMON service personnel in Chechnya maintained their innocence at the opening of their closed-door trial Friday.

The third officer, Major Igor Tikhonov, did not appear at Moscow's Presnensky district court, sending notice that he was ill.

Tikhonov, Major General Boris Fadeyev and Colonel Mikhail Levchenko are accused of failing to follow procedures in arranging for the arrival of a group of OMON service personnel from Sergiyev Posad to Grozny on March 2, 2000.

The Sergiyev Posad soldiers came under fire from a fellow OMON unit from Podolsk that they had been sent to replace.

The Podolsk unit was informed only that a column of unidentified armed people in police uniforms was arriving in Grozny.

Twenty-two of the 98-strong Sergiyev Posad unit were killed and 31 injured in a bloody firefight that the military initially blamed on Chechen rebels. At least two members of the Podolsk unit were also killed.

The hearings are being conducted by Judge Bakar Magomadov and other officials from the Staropromyslovsky district court of Grozny.

Fadeyev and Levchenko, both former top officials in the Chechnya military command, insisted Friday that their actions had not been negligent.

"My client doesn't acknowledge any guilt," Fadeyev's lawyer Lilia Ababkova told reporters Friday, her client standing behind her silently.

Another of Fadeyev's lawyers, Nikolai Vedishchev, told Kommersant that on the day of the shootout in Grozny his client had been accompanying another police column to Gudermes, and he had not received notice from Moscow regional authorities about the unit from Sergiyev Posad.

Levchenko told the court that he had arrived in Chechnya just hours before the shootout and had not known the situation in the region at the time, according to one of the plaintiffs, Nikolai Grachyov.

Grachyov's son, Sergei, an officer of the Podolsk OMON, was killed in the shootout.

"What negligence are you talking about?" Levchenko told journalists during a break in the hearings. "I was doing my work then for 20 hours a day."

Tikhonov, who headed the Podolsk OMON unit, was charged with failure to provide the Sergiyev Posad OMON with air cover and armored vehicles to ensure their safe passage through Chechnya.

The court finished reading the indictments Friday and will start questioning the defendants Monday. If they are found guilty, the officers face up to five years in prison.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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