–TYCOON: CHECHENS TRIED TO SELL ME A NUKE
Boris Berezovsky has claimed that Chechens once offered to sell him a nuclear bomb. The exiled tycoon, who first made the claim in an interview published in Komsomolskaya pravda on February 8, later told the Associated Press that several years ago, a Chechen representative identified as Zakhar offered to sell him a portable nuclear device and deliver it to any part of Russia or Europe. “Apparently they were talking to me about it, believing that I was an opponent or an adversary of Putin’s regime, and it may be of some interest to me,” Berezovsky said, adding that he initially turned to U.S. officials with information on the offer, and later contacted FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev. “As far as I know, the FSB got interested in this information, and as far as I know that information was confirmed – that Chechens did in fact possess such a nuclear device that wasn’t fully equipped, but nevertheless the nuclear charge was in the hands of Chechens,” Berezovsky said. He said that he didn’t know whom Zakhar represented, but that he wasn’t linked to rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov. Berezovsky also said the device may already be “in the hands of different people.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, accused Berezovsky of trying to “sow an atmosphere of vulnerability and nervousness in Russia.”
–REBELS GO ON TRIAL FOR DOWNING A CHOPPER
Four Chechens went on trial before the Chechen Supreme Court in Grozny for the explosion that caused the crash of an Mi-8 military helicopter in October 2002, killing ten members of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff and three crewmembers, Itar-Tass reported on February 7. According to Chechen prosecutor Vladimir Kravchenko, the defendants – Shamsudin Salavatov, Dokka Dzhantemirov, Sultan Matsiyev and Viskhan Khabibulayev – belonged to the group led by the late Arab field commander Khattab and were also involved in the murders of servicemen and civilians, as well as kidnappings. A Rostov court has already sentenced Dzhantemirov to life in prison for the August 2001 explosion that brought down an Mi-26 military helicopter in Khankala, killing 127 servicemen.
–MOSCOW METRO SUICIDE BOMBER IDENTIFIED
On February 6, hundreds of people gathered by Moscow’s Avtozavodskaya metro station to honor the memory of 41 people killed exactly one year earlier by a bomb that detonated in a metro car, the Moscow Times reported. On February 4, prosecutors said in a statement that they had identified all of those who died in the blast, including the 42nd person killed – the suspected suicide bomber. He was identified as Anzhor Izhayev, a native of Karachaevo-Cherkessia.
–QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Moscow has painted itself into a corner by choosing a single model for a peace settlement for Chechnya – through its appointed man and the Kadyrov clan. Moscow has robbed itself of an opportunity to reach the open ground of alternative solutions. Were they to try and take Maskhadov at his word, try to determine whether his proposals and offer of a ceasefire are empty words or not, the Kremlin’s shaky North Caucasus construction would collapse. The president, and he must be perfectly aware of this, has neither the strength nor the opportunity to escape from under the debris of the juggernaut he has created with his own hands. We have seen in Ukraine what driving oneself into a corner can lead to. As it turned out, it is not Moscow that decides things there. It also turned out that one could back off, smile and accept the new situation. The price of this obstinacy is a loss of face and scratches on one’s prestige. Moscow’s obstinacy as regards Chechnya has a far higher price – yes, the price is our children’s lives”— Ekho Moskvy radio commentator Sergei Buntman on February 7.