According to a Russian Interior Ministry spokesman, an Mi-8 "Hip" transport helicopter crashed in the vicinity of the Shelkovskaya village at 11:40 a.m. Moscow time (0840 GMT)27 January 2002. Eyewitnesses reported that the helicopter first started to spew smoke, flew for about 500m, fell on a ploughed field, caught fire and exploded almost at once.
This accident was particularly devastating. Among the 14 dead were Lieutenant General Mikhail Rudchenko (Southern federal district deputy interior minister), Lieutenant General Nikolai Garidov (deputy commander of the North Caucasus unified federal troops group and commander of the Interior Ministry troops group in Chechnya), Colonel Yuri Orlenko (deputy commander of the unified federal troops group in charge of Interior Ministry units), Yuri Stepanenko (deputy head of the temporary operational police units and formations group in Chechnya) and Senior Lieutenant Maxim Yeliseyev.
They were flying from Khankala to the Interior Ministry's 34th Separate Battalion's operations area, to conduct an inspection.
Reliability has been a consistent problem in the Russian helicopter fleet. As this accident so painfully illustrates, miserly maintenance can be more costly than enemy antiaircraft fire. - Adam Geibel