Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 39

Just as mysterious as Menkeev–and perhaps even more crucial to understanding the tragedy at the Dubrovka theater–is the figure of Ruslan Elmurzaev, alias “Abubakar.” Indeed, several eyewitnesses believe that he was the real leader of the hostage takers (see Chechnya Weekly, May 29). John Dunlop of the Hoover Institution, former editor of Chechnya Weekly, noted for Radio Liberty on October 27 that “There have been…press reports that Elmurzaev was not, as reported, killed in the storming of the theater (Moskovsky komsomolets, May 23, 2003). Film director Sergei Govorukhin (son of a well-known Duma deputy and filmmaker), who served as one of the volunteer negotiators at Dubrovka, where he met Elmurzaev, has stated his conviction that the terrorist, whom he identified as an FSB agent, is still alive. Russian procurators proved unable to show him Elmurzaev’s corpse and, during a visit to Chechnya in October 2003, Russian intelligence officers there confirmed to him that Elmurzaev is alive and living in Chechnya (ruskur.ru, October 23, 2003).”