Kavkazcenter, citing another pro-separatists website, marsho.dk, reported on March 24 that Musa Yusupov, the Tolstoi-Yurt resident in whose home Aslan Maskhadov allegedly hid and was killed, had been found dead. Marsho.dk’s sources in Chechnya reported that the Tolstoi-Yurt residents who discovered Yusupov’s body were shaken by the signs of “brutal torture” that they saw. Kavkazcenter also reported that relatives of Yusupov had been taken hostage – among them 67-year-old Azima Yusupova, a well-known Chechen poet-author – and that their fate remained unknown. It also claimed that local activists of the pro-Moscow administration had organized a town meeting to demand that Yusupov’s remaining relatives be expelled from Toltsoi-Yurt, but that they were overruled by a majority of the village’s residents.
Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Sultan Sataev told Interfax on March 25 that claims that Yusupov’s body was found had been “thoroughly checked” and “not been proved.” The same day, Interior Ministry Press Secretary Ruslan Atsaev insisted that not a single unidentified corpse had been found in the republic over the preceding few days, and that Yusupov’s corpse was not among corpses that were found. Likewise, Grozny police chief Ali Arsanukaev said the reports that Yusupov’s body had been discovered had “nothing to do with reality.”
Still, human rights groups who looked into the claims reported that Yusupov’s relatives remain in the dark concerning his whereabouts. “Our staff talked with Yusupov’s relatives, and so far they have no information about his fate,” Tatyana Kasatkina, executive director of the Memorial human rights center, told Interfax on March 29. Yusupov’s relatives, she said, have not gone to the Chechen prosecutor’s office to determine what has happened to him. Chechnya’s Interior Ministry on March 29 again dismissed reports that Yusupov had been found dead. “Information that the body of Yusupov with signs of a violent death was found does not correspond to reality,” the ministry’s press service told Itar-Tass. “Such canards are, as a rule, compiled on the Internet sites of extremists and are obvious lies and disinformation.” The press service said that after the killing of Aslan Maskhadov, Yusupov was detained in order to determine how the rebel leader had ended up in his house and that Yusupov was still “giving testimony of interest to the investigation.”