Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dudayev Threatens Russia's Airplanes

Chechnya's President Dzhokar Dudayev threatened Friday to shoot down Russian aircraft he says are arming his opponents in the breakaway North Caucasus republic, a top Chechen official said.

Dudayev made the warning after an increasing number of Russian helicopters were spotted over the republic's Nadterechny region, which is controlled by the pro-Moscow Provisional Council, Chechen Information Minister Movladi Udugov said in a telephone interview.

Udugov, speaking from the Chechen capital Grozny, said that men aged between 15 and 55 had begun reporting to military offices in response to the national mobilization decreed by Dudayev. The Chechen leader has said Russia is preparing an invasion of the republic.

A statement issued by the Russian government Friday, while expressing alarm at the decision to mobilize, reiterated a promise made by President Boris Yeltsin on Thursday not to use force in the republic.

However, Alexander Mikhailov, a spokesman for Russia's Federal Counterintelligence Service, said that Russian security forces would destroy Chechnya's anti-aircraft guns if attacks were carried out against Russian aircraft.

"Chechnya is a member of the Russian Federation," Mikhailov said. "Russian helicopters have the right to fly over Russian territory."

Adding to the tension between Moscow and Chechnya was a report -- originating from Yeltsin's administration -- that one of Yeltsin's advisers had been kidnapped and tortured by Chechen terrorists.

Nina Nesterchuk, a press spokeswoman for the administration, said Friday that a group of at least four men, two of whom the female victim described as ethnic Chechens, tried to force her to make a videotaped statement that Yeltsin's administration was waging a media war against Dudayev.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, is currently recovering from injuries she sustained when her kidnappers cut her with a knife and poured acid on her, Nesterchuk said.

Udugov responded that "the whole story either never happened or it has been made up by the Federal Counterintelligence Service" to discredit Dudayev's government.