Owners of North Caucasus ski resorts pay "tributes" to local militants in order to shield businesses and tourists from attacks, the Russian presidential envoy in the North Caucasus said on Thursday.
"I have absolutely reliable information... that the businessmen who own the local ski resorts pay off militants, thereby they do not merely help them, but are responsible for the killings in the region," envoy Alexander Khloponin said.
Tourists have rarely been targeted by militants in the North Caucasus, but on February 18 gunmen opened fire on a van carrying tourists from Moscow to a ski resort in the Mt. Elbrus area of Kabardino-Balkaria. Three people were killed and two others were injured.
That night, a cable car to carry skiers up the slopes of Mt. Elbrus was hit by an explosion, bringing the cables and 40 gondolas crashed to the ground. No one was injured in the incident.
Khloponin lamented that the entrepreneurs pay the militants because they do not trust the local authorities and do not believe that police can protect them.
YESSENTUKI, March 31 (RIA Novosti)