Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev has claimed responsibility for the Russian school hostage siege in which at least 320 people were killed. He blamed the Russian authorities for the deaths in Beslan. He further claimed recent bomb attacks on two Russian airliners and a Moscow metro station.
The wide-ranging statement also contains a denial of any plans to attack UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, described as a "slug". Excerpts from his statement, published in Russian on Chechen rebel websites, follow:
Basayev is Russia's most wanted man
In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate... Who is responsible for the attacks on Rusnya [derogatory word for Russia]? By the Grace of Allah, the Shakhid [martyr] battalion, Riyad us-Saliheen [Gardens of the Righteous] has carried out several successful operations on the territory of Rusnya.
The regional Shakhid unit of Moscow was responsible for the blasts on Kashirskoye Road [main approach road to Domodedovo Airport] and the Rizhskaya metro station in Moscow. The downing of the [Tu-134 and Tu-154] airliners [which left from Domodedovo] was carried out by the special operations unit.
And the second battalion, under the command of Col Orstkhoyev, was responsible for the "Nord-Vest" operation in Beslan [pun on the Moscow Dubrovka theatre siege, where the musical Nord-Ost was playing].
We insist that the storming was carried out by the Russian special services, which had planned that from the very start
Putin screamed like a scalded pig and said that Rusnya was under attack and that war had been declared on Russia. He wants to link the rest of the world to the blood spilled in Beslan, he appeals for help - but forgets at the same time that "Chechnya is Russia's internal affair".
What happened in Beslan is a terrible tragedy: the bloodsucker from the Kremlin killed or wounded 1,000 children and adults by ordering the storming of the school to satisfy his imperial ambitions and to keep his job. In the most impudent manner Putin is now trying to blame us for that, accusing us also of international terrorism and appealing to the world for help.
The battalion of Shakhid, Riyad us-Saliheen, thinks that Putin and leaders of the world community, who blessed the slaughter, are fully responsible for what happened. We demand a public investigation into the Beslan events from the United Nations, the European Union and everyone who has one-sidedly condemned our actions.
We are prepared to help them in every possible way in the inquiry into the incident and provide them with virtually any kind of information. We insist that the storming was carried out by the Russian special services, which had planned that from the very start.
There are facts to prove that:
The mujaheddin made clear-cut and precise demands:
- We demand that the war in Chechnya be stopped immediately and that the withdrawal of forces be carried out;
- We insist that Putin immediately resigns from his post as president of the Russian Federation;
- We insist that all hostages, be it children or adults, go on hunger strike in support of our demands;
Also, the mojahedin set the following conditions:
There is one magic word which needs to be said to stop all wars and evil on this planet. This word is Justice
- We will give water to everyone provided Putin immediately stops the war, sends all his troops to the barracks and begins the withdrawal of his troops;
- We will give food to everyone provided Putin begins the withdrawal of his troops in reality;
- We will release children under 10 as soon as they start withdrawing the troops from mountainous areas;
- We will set others free after they complete the withdrawal of the troops;
- If Putin submits a letter of resignation, we will release all the children and go back to Chechnya with others...
Appeal to Putin
I also sent a personal message to Putin...
Vladimir Putin, you were not the one to start the war, but you could be the one to end it, that is if you find the courage and resolve to act like [French statesman Charles] de Gaulle [who pulled France out of Algeria].
The Chechen nation is not fighting to humiliate Russia or destroy it.
We are offering you peace on a mutually beneficial basis in line with the principle "independence for security".
We can guarantee that if you withdraw the troops and recognise Chechen independence, then:
- We will not strike any political, military or economic deals with anyone against Russia;
- We will not have any foreign military bases even temporary ones;
- We will not support or finance groups fighting the Russian Federation;
- We will join the Commonwealth of Independent States;
- We will stay in the rouble zone;
- We could sign the Collective Security Treaty, although we would prefer the status of a neutral state;
I have not planned any attempt on the life of Blair - I have nothing to do with that slug
- We can guarantee that all of Russia's Muslims will refrain from armed methods of struggle against the Russian Federation, at least for 10-15 years, on condition that freedom of religion be respected...
The Chechen nation is involved in the national liberation struggle for its Freedom and Independence and for its preservation. It is not fighting to humiliate Russia or destroy it. As a free nation, we are interested in a strong neighbour. We are offering you peace and the choice is yours...
I have not met bin Laden. I received no money from him, but I would not have declined the offer...
I have not planned any attempt on the life of Blair, I have nothing to do with that slug, but I do respect Elizabeth II. We regret what happened in Beslan. This is simply a war declared by Putin five years ago, which has killed more than 40,000 Chechen children and crippled more than 5,000...
We ask the whole world: All right, we are bad guys and one could kill us, the 7,000 bad guys. But why kill the other 250,000 civilians and the killing is still going on? They are fighting us without any rules with the direct connivance of the whole world, we are not bound by any commitments and we will fight as we know how and in accordance with our rules...
There is all that shouting and outrage. Various words are being said, but there is one magic word which needs to be said to stop all wars and evil on this planet. This word is Justice.
We have no choice, they offered war to us, and we will fight till victory despite what they say about us and how they label us. This world will sooner be set on fire than we refuse to fight for our freedom and independence! God is Great!
[signed] Abdallah Shamil Basayev, amir of the Riyad al-Salikhin martyrs' brigade
BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.