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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sniper Downs Chopper, Kills 1

VLADIKAVKAZ, Southern Russia — Unknown assailants fired a high-caliber machine-gun at a helicopter carrying two State Duma deputies near Chechnya on Thursday, mortally wounding the crew commander, officials said.

Sergei Ivanchenko, press secretary of the Federal Border Guards service, said the Mi-8 helicopter was damaged and forced to make an emergency landing four kilometers from Nazran. A backup pilot took over after Lieutenant Colonel Leonid Konstantinov was wounded, but the hurt commander helped him land the craft, Ivanchenko said.

Konstantinov died en route to the hospital, said Alexei Arbatov, deputy head of the Duma's defense committee, who was aboard the helicopter.

In all, 15 people were on board, said Kureish Beisultanov, a spokesman for Ingush President Ruslan Aushev.

Ivanchenko said none of the passengers had been hurt. Yury Shein, a spokesman for Arbatov's Yabloko party, said Arbatov had minor scratches. Arbatov and Russia's Regions member Yevgeny Zelenov, also a defense committee member, had been in Ingushetia to discuss draft legislation on the status of active-duty servicemen, Shein said.

The helicopter came under fire from a forest near the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya. Police, prosecutors and the Federal Security Service, or FSB, have launched a search and investigation.

  • German Ugryumov, a deputy director of the FSB, died of a heart attack in Chechnya on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing Interfax. Ugryumov had been dealing with the handover of operations to the FSB, Itar-Tass said.