Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev will most likely take Aslan Maskhadov's place

More details about the elimination of Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov and photographs of his body

The leader of Chechen terrorists, Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed in a special operation in Chechnya yesterday, could have yielded to the federal forces. However, Maskhadov turned negotiations down. As it turned out, Aslan Maskhadov was hiding in one of the most peaceful settlements of Chechnya, Tolstoi-Yurt.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the first Vice Premier of the Chechen government, told Interfax on Wednesday that all security forces would actively be involved in the capture of another Chechen terrorist – Shamil Basayev.

A large detachment of federal forces entered the settlement of Tolstoi-Yurt early in the morning of March 8th and blocked several streets. The soldiers ordered all local residents to stay indoors and not to go out until a special direction was announced, the Kommersant newspaper wrote.

Elimination of Chechen leader, Aslan Maskhadov - Photo Gallery

The townsfolk were rather frightened with such a sudden turn of events – it was happening in the settlement for the first time in recent years. “No one explained anything to us. We received no information either from the government or from the Interior Affairs Ministry of the republic,” residents of Tolstoi-Yurt said.

Russian federal forces learned about Aslan Maskhadov's whereabouts from the guerrillas, who had been arrested during a recent operation in the Chechen republic. The nabbed terrorists told federal agents during interrogations that Aslan Maskhadov and three of his bodyguards were hiding in the settlement of Tolstoi-Yurt, in the house of a man, named only as Yusupov. Yusupov was a distant relative of Maskhadov, the arrested terrorists said. Special troops of the Russian Federal Security Bureau and the Interior Affairs Ministry set off for Yusupov's house early in the morning.

Federal troops blockaded the house at 3:30 p.m. The leader of Chechen separatists was hiding in the concrete basement of the house. The basement had only one entrance. Federal soldiers tried to get in, but the automatic fire from the basement stopped them. The soldiers blew up one of the walls of the basement and rushed inside.

”The owner of the house did not show any resistance. He was tied up and taken outside. When we asked him where Aslan Maskhadov was hiding, he simply answered that he was staying in the basement of the house. Maskhadov and his people could not defend themselves by shooting – we could easily shower them with grenades through the hatch. At first we tried to negotiation with Maskhadov, asking him to yield. However, he refused to talk with Russian military men. Maskhadov's former employee, Vakhid Murdashev (a native of Chechnya), entered into negotiations,” said one of the Russian military men, who participated in the special operation to capture the Chechen leader. 

The talks continued for about an hour. However, negotiators could not find a compromise and come to any decision. “Maskhadov's bodyguards realized that the situation was hopeless for them. They were trying to convince him of the need to surrender and get out of the basement. We could not hear what Maskhadov was answering them, we could only hear him and his people talking rather aggressively,” a member of the Russian special troops said.

Only three Maskhadov's bodyguards decided to leave the basement of the house as a result of the talks. Ramzan Kadyrov, the first Vice Premier of the Chechen government, said that one of the bodyguards shot Maskhadov incidentally. However, Chechen Interior Minister, Ruslan Alkhanov, said that the federal forces threw grenades into the basement after negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov returned no results. The Chechen leader was therefore killed with grenade explosions, GZT.Ru wrote.

”It is rather symbolic that our President, Akhmad Kadyrov, heroically died on the men's holiday, the Victory Day. This so-called President of Ichkeria (Maskhadov) found his death in a damp cellar on Women's Day. What more can be said about it,” Interior Affairs Ministry Alkhanov said. (Akhmad Kadyrov, the Chechen President, was killed in a terrorist attack on May 9th, 2004).

Residents of Tolstoi-Yurt confirmed the version about the elimination of Maskhadov with grenades. Local residents said that there was no shooting in the settlement. However, they heard several remote explosions. This assumption raises certain doubts, though: there can be no explosion wounds found on Aslan Maskhadov's body.

A spokesman for Regional Headquarters to control the counter-terrorist operation in the Northern Caucasus said that the body of the fugitive Chechen leader would most likely be buried in a nameless grave on the territory of a correctional colony or a prison, according to the anti-terrorist law. Experts will thoroughly examine Aslan Maskhadov's body at first.

Shamil Basayev, the notorious Chechen warlord, will most likely become the new leader of Chechen separatists after Maskhadov's death. There is another candidacy for the “post” – Doku Umarov. Both Basayev and Umarov are known for their uncompromising anti-Russian attitude.

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Author`s name Olga Savka