WASHINGTON – United States Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), today welcomed reports that both sides in the Chechen conflict have pledged to try to secure the release of U.S. citizen and aid worker Kenneth Gluck, who was reportedly kidnaped in Russian-controlled Chechnya on January 9 while working with the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders.
Gluck was apparently kidnaped by masked gunmen near the village of Stary Atagy. As a result of the kidnaping, Doctors Without Borders has announced that it is temporarily suspending operations in Chechnya.
“Kenneth Gluck was involved in a noble humanitarian program to provide assistance to people in Chechnya who have been caught in the maelstrom of a bloody conflict,” Chairman Smith said. “This latest action against a foreign aid worker will only increase the suffering of innocent victims. It is commendable that authorities on both sides of the political conflict have pledged to seek freedom for Kenneth Gluck.”
“All sides in the conflict have a stake in reducing the lawlessness that has plagued Chechnya,” said Commission Ranking Member Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md). “The release of Kenneth Gluck is essential if there is to be any end to the plague of violence and inhumanity that has descended upon Chechnya,” said Hoyer.
As a result of the renewed conflict in Chechnya, Doctors Without Borders began working with displaced persons in Ingushetia in 1999, and gained access to Chechnya in 2000. Gluck, a native of New York, is the director of the Doctors Without Borders relief programs in Chechnya. He previously worked on humanitarian operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tajikistan and Colombia.
In 1999, Doctors Without Borders was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its international humanitarian work.