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Sunday, 27 February, 2000, 10:37 GMT
Russian soldier 'explains' Chechnya video
Izvestiya front-page
"You lied!" - Izvestiya accuses the German TV network of distortion
A Russian army officer has told Russian NTV television that the bodies shown on the controversial videotape from Chechnya had been gathered to be exchanged for a Russian prisoner.

The video, broadcast by Germany's N24 television, the BBC and Russian television stations, showed Russian soldiers piling the bodies of Chechens into a mass grave.

Major Timofei Ryzhkov said he had organised the collection of the corpses and defended the rough handling of the dead bodies by saying that Chechen rebels treated dead Russians no differently.

[Presenter] Major Timofei Ryzhkov contacted us today. In an interview given to our correspondent Konstantin Mylnikov, he said that he personally was among those who transported the Chechen bodies.

He said it was in the vicinity of the village of Duba-Yurt.

[Ryzhkov] It is true, we delivered the bodies. It was in the Duba-Yurt area.

A special checkpoint for an exchange has been set up there. I received information that a soldier of mine was still alive in Chechen captivity.

Naturally, my aim was to arrange a swap. Naturally, I was running around in search of something.

When I learned about the bodies of dead Chechens, or Arabs, I don't know who they were, I jumped at the idea. I delivered the bodies to the site.

When the exchange failed, we placed the bodies in some sort of ravine.

All the damage inflicted on the Chechen bodies was either from bullets or fragments, or mechanical damage inflicted during the transportation when they were dragged down the hills.

They transport the bodies of our servicemen in the same manner.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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25 Feb 00 |  Europe
Russia denies Chechnya atrocity
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