Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 13

On April 26, Russian state-run television (RTR) broadcast footage of a dead body identified as that of a top separatist guerilla commander, the Arab-born Khattab. If the body turned out to be that of Khattab, then he would become “the most important guerilla commander killed since Russian troops launched their two-and-a-half-year-old second Chechen campaign” (Reuters, April 26). In comments on this development, Russian President Vladimir Putin observed that “we must await objective confirmation of this information, but one would like to think that it is true.” And he then declared aggressively: “I am certain that such an end awaits all terrorists” (RIA Novosti, April 25). Stating that he was personally inclined to believe that Khattab had been killed–though he wanted to see proof of this–the elected pro-Moscow representative from Chechnya to the Russian State Duma, retired MVD General Aslambek Aslakhanov, asked: “How will this [event] be reflected on the situation in Chechnya? To believe that the rebels will now begin to surrender their weapons is delirium–that precisely will not happen…. I would, however, like to believe that at least the flow of money that came through [Khattab] into the republic, not for restoring the economy and not to feed the unhappy victims of this war, but to finance the placing of explosives would significantly diminish…. Without that money there will probably be fewer terrorist acts” (, April 25).