Terrorist Shamil Basayev rejoined Chechen rebel government

A senior Chechen rebel representative confirmed Tuesday that Shamil Basayev has rejoined the rebel government and said the radical warlord will be kept in check by other ministers.

Basayev, who claimed responsibility for last year's deadly school seizure in southern Russia and other terrorist attacks, rejoined the rebel government as deputy prime minister on Aug. 25, Osman Ferzaouli, foreign minister for the rebels, told The Associated Press.

"He has promised to be more responsible," Ferzaouli, who lives in Denmark as a refugee, said about Basayev.

"Basayev is a soldier but he cannot refuse to take orders given by the state defense council and if he does that he will be out of the law," Ferzaouli said. "He cannot do that. The Chechen government and the state defense council will push him to be quiet."

The state defense council is the inner circle of top field commanders that makes key decisions for the rebels.

A statement on a rebel Web site last week said Basayev had rejoined the rebel government in a move that analysts said reflected the rebels' desire to regroup following the killing earlier this year of their leader, Aslan Maskhadov.

Ferzaouli said the old government was dissolved early this month, and that he had recently been in touch with Maskhadov's successor, Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev.

Ferzaouli, who had been part of a moderate wing led by Maskhadov, said he replaced Ilyas Akhmadov, the former rebel foreign minister who had been granted political asylum in the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to negotiate with rebels, calling them terrorists.

Russian forces and their local allies have been fighting Chechen separatists for most of the past decade in the mostly Muslim province.

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