Da The Moscow Times del 16/03/2005
Originale su http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/03/16/011.html

FSB Pays $10 Million for Maskhadov Tip-Off

di Carl Schreck

The Federal Security Service said Tuesday that it paid out a $10 million reward for information on the whereabouts of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, and it reaffirmed an earlier pledge to pay an equal amount for the capture of warlord Shamil Basayev.

The FSB announced March 8 that FSB commandos had killed Maskhadov the same day in the bunker of a house in the Chechen village Tolstoy-Yurt.

The FSB said Tuesday that "citizens" gave authorities the "necessary information" on Maskhadov's whereabouts after it offered the $10 million reward following the Beslan attack in September. "The citizens in question have been paid the reward in full," it said in a statement.

It was unclear how many people had collected a portion of the reward. An FSB spokesman confirmed by telephone that the money had been paid out but declined to comment further.

FSB spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko said $10 million was being offered for Basayev and said those who provided information would be offered protection and anonymity, Interfax reported.

Kremlin-backed Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said he was certain that Basayev, who claimed responsibility for the Beslan tragedy and other terrorist attacks, would be found.

Shortly after Maskhadov's death, Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov declared that no reward would be paid because Maskhadov had been betrayed by a fellow rebel.

Those remarks were among several instances when Kadyrov has offered up information that deviated from the official version of events surrounding Maskhadov's death, prompting speculation in some circles that he may have played a role in the killing.

Kadyrov initially claimed that Maskhadov had been accidentally shot by a bodyguard, but he later dismissed his comment as a joke.

Rossia state television on Sunday night broadcast an interview with an FSB commando from the raid who said no negotiations had been held with Maskhadov before commandos blew up his bunker March 8.

"We assumed that Maskhadov would not turn himself in, and we had every reason to assume that," said the man, whose face was not shown and whose voice was altered. "We knew that Maskhadov was wearing a suicide bomber's belt."

Kommersant last week quoted a participant in the raid as saying that the commandos had tried to negotiate with Maskhadov.

Popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets fueled speculation Tuesday with a front-page report that said the bunker where authorities say Maskhadov had lived since October had no toilet or ventilation system, making it impossible for him to stay there for long periods of time. "You start to suffocate very quickly," Yakha Yusupova, the wife of the house's owner, told the newspaper.

Yusupova earlier told The Associated Press that Maskhadov had not lived in her basement and that federal forces may have brought him there Tuesday.

A rebel-linked web site said last week that it had information from a source close to Kadyrov that Maskhadov was killed by Kadyrov's security service Sunday and that Kadyrov asked federal forces to take credit.

Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Sultan Satuyev scoffed at the speculation Tuesday. "Maskhadov was found and liquidated in [Tolstoy-Yurt] and in the exact spot that FSB officials have indicated," Satuyev told Interfax.

Authorities blew up the Tolstoy-Yurt house on Monday, saying they feared it contained booby traps. Some observers said it looked like officials were trying to destroy evidence that would raise questions about the death.

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