The sum of the reward does not matter; it may be even a billion dollars
Chechen warlords continue their strikes wherever they want, emphatically disregarding the fact that Russia has declared a huge reward for their heads. The security chief of the fugitive Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov, Akhmed Avdarkhanov, headed a group of 50 armed men, seized the settlement of Alleroy and attacked a check-point of the Chechen Interior Ministry with automatic fire.
The incident happened at a high point of another campaign conducted by the Russian special services. Russia is currently looking for warlords Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov. On September 9th, the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) announced the reward of 300 million rubles (over $10 million) for Basayev's head. A spokesman for the regional headquarters for the counter-terrorist operation in North Caucasus, Major-General Ilya Shabalkin, persistently repeats that the special services will keep the promise.
An officer of the Russian troops in North Caucasus told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper that the scale of the hunting and the commotion around it is very large “as if Russia intends to announce the final and definitive victory over terrorism and proclaim another national holiday, when the two rascals are caught, if not in Russia, then in Chechnya.” The cynical statement reflects the essence of what is currently happening in the region. “Over 1,000 officers of the Chechen Interior Ministry have been called up for the operation,” a spokesman for the ministry, Col. Sultan Satuev said. The military men were divided into several mobile groups to collect the efficient information. The groups are all set to capture or destroy Basayev and Maskhadov.
The commander of a special Chechen battalion, Sulima Yamadaev, said that the chosen strategy would not let Basayev stay calm at any time of the day, whether it is day or night: “We will be following in his footsteps until we capture him and hang him on the first lamppost wee see,” Yamadaev said.
Two and a half million dollars were offered for Shamil Basayev's head in 1999, after the incursion in Dagestan in December of 2003. Five million dollars were promised for his head in Chechnya, and the FSB doubled the price. However, no one rushes to give away the murderer of hundreds of innocent people. General Shabalkin said that the FSB had already received several messages about Basayev's whereabouts, agents started checking the reports.
”None of our operations to bribe the people of Basayev, or any other Chechen warlord has been a success. The sum of the reward does not matter; it may be even a billion dollars. Only a Chechen national can deliver Basayev. No person of the Chechen origin is likely to take ten million, or five billion dollars, because it will be impossible to keep a secret of his or her name. It is easy to guess, what is going to happen to that person. We do not have any proactive information, that is why we will be chasing Basayev for some ten more years,” a source from the military structures said.
Major Alexander Solodnyakov said: “Yes, local Chechens provide some information to us. However, they always conceal the predicted data, which we need most.”
FSB's director, Nikolay Patrushev, confirmed the above-mentioned information. Patrushev told Interfax that the FSB was powerless in amending the work for obtaining the predicted information. Patrushev urged Russian senators to overcome the negative image of secret cooperation, which had been formed in Russia over the recent decades.
Military officials believe that Basayev and Maskhadov use a well-regulated informational Chechen network, which informs them of Russia's plans against them. An experienced analyst told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the outlines of a certain combination could be seen in the “new show to capture Basayev.” “Someone, probably from the West, decided to finish off with Basayev after the hostage crisis in Beslan. That certain someone informed the Russian administration of the price and 'technical details.' The money will not be given to a shepherd, who points his finger at some lame man and says that this is Shamil Basayev. The millions will be wired to someone's account in a Swiss bank, for example. If I am right, or at least close to being right, Basayev will most likely be captured,” the anonymous source said.
For the time being, the commotion around Shamil Basayev and new large-scale campaigns to seize him can bring only good to the image of the “Russian Bin Laden.” Tens and hundreds of Chechen militants and their warlords are not willing to betray Basayev even after the hostage crisis in Beslan.