Russia to offer amnesty to Chechen militants who surrender

The planned amnesty is part of an effort to end armed resistance in Chechnya and the restive North Caucasus following the death last week of rebel leader Shamil Basayev, who was behind the deadliest terror attacks during more than a decade of nearly constant conflict in Chechnya.

Federal Security Service Chief Nikolai Patrushev said Russia's National Anti-terrorism Committee, which he heads, would work out a proposal for the amnesty and send it to parliament and President Vladimir Putin for approval.

On Saturday, Patrushev urged rebels to abandon armed groups, put down their weapons and "switch to the side of the people" by Aug. 1, promising a fair examination of their past actions - a suggestion that they could avoid prosecution if not suspected of grave crimes, the AP reports.

Past amnesties offered to Chechen rebels by the Russian authorities have had limited success, but the Kremlin appears more confident following the death of Basayev, killed by an explosion a week ago in what officials said was a special operation but rebel representatives claimed was an accident.