- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2001

MOSCOW An American worker for the aid group Doctors Without Borders was released unharmed after nearly a month of captivity in rebel Chechnya and said yesterday he would consider going back to work in the war-ravaged region.

"I feel OK," Kenneth Gluck, 38, said in remarks broadcast on television from Khankala, where the Russian military operation in Chechnya is based. "The kidnappers treated me quite well. They did not beat me or anything."

Mr. Gluck was freed Saturday night in an operation conducted by the Federal Security Service, which directs the Russian campaign against rebels in Chechnya, said service spokesman Alexander Zdanovich in Khankala.

Agents of the service, known by the acronym FSB, had been following Mr. Gluck's kidnappers for days but had been unable to act "without putting his life in danger," Mr. Zdanovich said. "When the moment came, we moved in and secured his release."

"Not a kopeck was paid" in ransom, Mr. Zdanovich said, but did not give further details. Mr. Gluck did not say who had held him hostage; Russian officials previously said he was being held by fighters allied to a warlord who goes by the name Yakub.

Mr. Gluck was seized Jan. 9 by masked gunmen who pulled him from his car near the town of Stariye Atagi, in the southern foothills of Chechnya, while he was on a mission to deliver aid. Other workers in the group of cars escaped.

After the kidnapping, Doctors Without Borders halted its work in Chechnya, which has been battered by a 16-month war between separatist rebels and Russian forces.

A spokesman for the group in Amsterdam, Ruud Huurman, said no decision has been made on whether to resume work in Chechnya.

"I think Doctors Without Borders will continue to help people in the area as much as possible. It does not depend on me," Mr. Gluck said.

Asked whether he would go back if the group resumes work in Chechnya, Mr. Gluck said, "I see no reason not to take part."

Mr. Gluck, head of the group's mission for the North Caucasus region that includes Chechnya and adjacent Russian republics, was expected to go today to Nazran, the capital of neighboring Ingushetia, where the group has an office.

The New York City native has wide experience in insecure regions. Doctors Without Borders says he has also worked in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Sudan and Liberia, among other countries. He also worked in Chechnya during the 1994-96 war, the group said. That fighting ended with the pullout of Russian troops.

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