Chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces Anatoly Kvashnin declared that "there are no big bandit formations in Chechnya". The general told journalists on Thursday that only "separate bandit units remained in the republic". According to him, the bandit formations subordinated to separatists' head Maskhadov and the widely known terrorist in Russia, Shamil Basayev practically terminated their activity. "Foreign mercenaries from the Khattab gangs being financed from abroad remained there in the main," Kvashnin pointed out. "As soon as this financial flow stops, the bandit groups will scatter, and the situation will become calm in Chechnya," he concluded. According to Kvashnin, "the chieftains of the bandit formations are now lying in hiding". There are rumours that they left Chechnya or even died, he said. In particular, the general underlined, "there are rumours that Shamil Basayev died of wounds". "I don't think so and believe that such rumours are being spread by separatists' heads themselves as they are trying to hide and avoid retribution for crimes they committed.
According to Russian officials, the detainees are employees of the private security company who were on their way to Latin America via Minsk and Istanbul. Lukashenko calls Russian officials liars