Russian Court Sentences Two Chechens To Prison Over 1995 Budyonnovsk Hostage Seizure

Two Chechen men have been sentenced to prison over a deadly hostage-taking attack in the southern Russian city of Budyonnovsk in 1995, a turning point in the first of two post-Soviet separatist wars in nearby Chechnya.

The North Caucasus Regional Military Court in the city of Rostov-on-Don found Ramzan Belyalov and Magomed Mazdayev guilty of hostage-taking and organizing a terrorist attack and sentenced them to 15 and 13 years in prison respectively.

Belyalov and Mazdayev pleaded not guilty.

Belyalov says he was working elsewhere when the hostage crisis erupted in Budyonnovsk, near Chechnya in the Stavropol Krai.

On June 14, 1995, a group of Chechen separatists led by Shamil Basayev attacked a local police station and government buildings in Budyonnovsk and took some 1,500 people hostage, demanding withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya.

About 150 people were killed.

The surviving hostages were released following a five-day siege after Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin promised a cease-fire in Chechnya and gave Basayev and his backers safe passage back to Chechnya.

The deal to resolve the crisis paved the way for an August 1996 agreement that ended the war.

A second war erupted in 1999, with then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin playing a prominent role in decision-making, after Basayev led militants in an incursion into neighboring Daghestan.

Basayev, who became the most wanted man in Russia, was killed in an explosion in 2006.

Based on reporting by Rapsinews and Interfax