Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 11

The location of Maskhadov’s body also remains a source of controversy. Following the announcement of Maskhadov’s death, Ramzan Kadyrov said the body should be turned over to Maskhadov’s relatives but Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the federal forces in Chechnya, said it would not be turned over because Russia’s law on terrorism prohibited doing so. On March 10, the separatist Kavkazcenter website posted an appeal from Maskhadov’s widow Kusama, his son Anzor, and his daughter Fatima, to “authoritative international organizations.” “In connection with the tragedy that has taken place, a monstrous situation has come to pass in which the Russian leadership, flouting norms common to all mankind, are treating the body of President Maskhadov, who was murdered by them, in a completely savage, barbaric way,” the appeal read. “On the pretext that the murdered legitimate president Maskhadov was a terrorist, the Russian leadership is not returning his body for burial. Thus, to the pain of our loss is added an additional pain. This is blasphemous and completely inexplicable in the conditions of the contemporary civilized world! We earnestly ask that you make use of the weight of your authority…to demand from the Russian leadership the delivery of the body of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov to his relatives. We believe that Putin will listen to your opinion.”

Agence France-Presse reported on March 14 that a group of Russian human rights activists led by the leader of the For Human Rights organization, Lev Ponomarev, had signed an appeal calling it “shameful” to refuse to return Maskhadov’s body to his relatives. Ekho Moskvy radio reported on March 15 that Maskhadov’s relatives had appealed to the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers for help in getting his body returned.

Russian news agencies quoted military officials as saying that Maskhadov’s body was examined at a forensic laboratory in Rostov-on-Don on March 13 and sent to Moscow the following day for a final examination.