Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Basayev's Death: Some Issues

A couple of points related to the death of Shamil Basayev on July 9-10.

1) A lengthy and detailed article in Kommersant indicates that the only positive identifying feature of the decapitated and mangled remains of Shamil Basayev (pictured here) is his artificial leg, which police say they found at the scene of the explosion.

The most likely cause of the explosion still seems to have been carelessness with explosives on the part of the guerrillas. The article also ventures a second hypothesis that the group of four men may have been blown up by a Russian military patrol using a remote control device, as part of a routine operation, but that the patrol would not have been able to see in the darkness that Basayev was one of the group.

2) The separatist Chechenpress website has issued a statement condemning the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article about a supposed interview with ChRI foreign minister Zakayev, published on July 10. The statement says that the German text of the article was further distorted by the Russian translation, which added quotation marks ("foreign minister", "government", etc.). The site says that the authentic version of Foreign Minister Zakayev's reaction to the death of Shamil Basayev is here.

I had better make it clear that the version that appears in this blog is the one, though minus the quotation marks. The German text ("Bassajew hat uns geschadet...") has now disappeared from the FAZ website, and can't even be retrieved by Google Cache or Wayback Machine.

Update: There is now a partial translation of the long Kommersant article referred to above on the Kommersant English-language site. A new article which appeared on the site today - July 13 - confirms that there is still no positive evidence that the dead guerrilla alleged to be Basayev is in fact him.
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