IOCC renews call for freedom of humanitarian aid workers held in Chechnya

News and Press Release
Originally published
BALTIMORE - The nightmare of captivity continues for three humanitarian aid workers held since last fall in Chechnya.
"Hell on earth" was the way in which IOCC staff member Dmitri Penkovsky described the cement bunker in which he was held during six months of captivity. Penkovsky, released on March 24, 1998, remains in Vladikavkaz in the southern part of the Russian Federation, where he receives on-going treatment for stomach, liver, and kidney ailments stemming from the severe conditions under which he was held.

Dimitri Petrov, who was taken by armed men at the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya together with Penkovsky, has now spent more than nine months in captivity. Both men were kidnapped on September 20, 1997 while delivering relief supplies in Chechnya as part of an humanitarian aid effort supported by Action By Churches Together, a Geneva-based network of international church aid agencies.

The IOCC Crisis Management Team continues to work in earnest for the release of Petrov who is living under conditions of extreme hardship. Penkovsky, who emerged from his captivity in the same clothes in which he was kidnapped, described the damp and dark bunker in which he was housed. The cement cavity, he noted, provided only about 14 square feet of space. The hollow had no heat, no daylight, and insufficient ventilation.

Istvan Olah and Gabor Dunaijsy of IOCC's partner organization Hungarian Interchurch Aid also continue to be held in Chechnya. The Hungarian men have been in captivity since October 23, 1997. Like Petrov, Olah and Dunaijsky were delivering aid supplies to refugees in Chechnya when they were abducted.

International Orthodox
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