A Russian military helicopter has been shot down near Grozny, the capital of Russia's breakaway Chechen republic, killing nine soldiers on board.
Russia's Interfax news agency quotes a Russian military officer as saying the Mi-8 helicopter was downed by fire from a mobile rocket launcher.
News of the attack came shortly after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said he was suspending plans to reduce the number of Russian troops in Chechnya.
Meanwhile, reports say top Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev, detained in Denmark last week and wanted by Russia, may seek political asylum in Denmark.
A Chechen rebel representative said Mr. Zakayev is expected to submit an asylum request early this week.
Mr. Zakayev, a top aide to Chechen separatist President Aslan Maskhadov, was arrested early Wednesday by Danish police acting on Russia's request while he was attending a conference of Chechen exiles in Copenhagen.
Russia accuses Mr. Zakayev of helping plan last month's Moscow theater siege. Prosecutors in Moscow say they will send evidence to Danish authorities proving his guilt.
About 120 hostages and 50 guerillas were killed when Russian special forces stormed the theater to free more than 800 people held by the Chechens.
Most of the guerrillas and almost all of the hostages died from a gas pumped into the theater by the Russians to incapacitate the hostage-takers.