Chechen Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudaev died on December 11 in a fire at his residence within the Chechen government complex in Grozny. RIA Novosti quoted Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Akhmed Dakaev as saying that same day that the fire was probably caused by a short circuit and that Dudaev died of smoke inhalation. Prosecutor Valery Kuznetsov told the news agency on December 13 that forensic experts had confirmed Dudaev died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The separatist Kavkazcenter website posted a report on December 12 that cited a representative of the Chechen rebel command and stated that “the general of the FSB [Federal Security Service] Rudnik Dudaev was destroyed as a result of a special operation” by the rebels’ “special services.” The website cited an unnamed source as saying that the building where Dudaev was had been “blown up by a remote-controlled mine.” Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ziyad Sabsabi called the rebel claim “rubbish and nonsense,” Interfax reported on December 12. “If somebody stumbled on a staircase they would say it had been their work and claim they had placed a banana peel there,” Sabsabi said, adding that Dudaev’s death was “a tragic accident.”
Yet, Moskovsky komsomolets on December 13 reported that it was likely Dudaev died as a result of a deliberately set fire. The newspaper noted that he was a career FSB officer (who retired from the FSB as a colonel, not a general, as Chechenpress referred to him) who was considered the author of the “Kadyrov project” – meaning, as a source told the newspaper, that Dudaev assisted Akhmed Kadyrov’s rise to power and always supported him and, after his death, his son, Ramzan Kadyrov. Moskovsky komsomolets quoted sources “close to” the rebels as saying that they regarded Dudaev as a “power broker” whom they hated for having “enticed” many rebels to switch sides and join Kadyrov’s security forces. The newspaper also noted that Dudaev died on December 11—the 11th anniversary of Russia’s military intervention in Chechnya.
Aleksei Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center, meanwhile, said that Dudaev was “in the way of some people both in the pro-Russian part of Chechnya and in the [rebel-dominated] mountains,” Interfax reported on December 12. “Dudaev did not belong with Chechnya, he belonged with Moscow,” Malashenko said. “He was a pro-Moscow Chechen official with an opinion and a political position of his own.”