The ringleaders of Chechen militants, Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov, are hiding on the territory of Russia, a high-placed source inside the Russian Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
"It would've been wrong to say that Maskhadaov and Basayev are in Chechnya proper, it would be more correct to say that they are hiding on the territory of Russia," the source specified.
"Their elimination will help to normalize the operative situation in Chechnya and will weaken to a great extent the bandit formations operating in the republic," he said.
The source also stressed that Basayev and Maskhadov "symbolic figures" whom the international extremist organizations back up.
Manhunt for Basayev and Maskhadov continues, the source said.