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The BBC's Andrew Harding in Moscow
"He has been wounded and reported dead with bewildering regularity"
 real 28k

The BBC's Carrie Gracie reports
"He has been a thorn in Moscow's side since the first Chechen war"
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 15:42 GMT
Chechen warlord captured
Raduyev: face remodelled by plastic surgery
Raduyev: face remodelled by plastic surgery
Russia has captured one of the most wanted Chechen warlords, Salman Raduyev, and taken him to Moscow.

The news was broken by acting President Vladimir Putin on Monday, at a meeting with his deputies, and the defence and interior ministers.

"This is one of the most odious bandit leaders," Mr Putin said.

"Now he's in prison, and that's where he belongs."

Mr Raduyev led a mass hostage-taking raid on the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan in January 1996.

His unit and about 150 hostages, seized at a hospital in the town of Kizlyar, were encircled by Russian troops in the village of Pervomaisk but fought their way out and escaped back to Chechnya.

Back from the dead

In March 1996 Mr Raduyev was shot in the head in an assassination attempt and reported dead.

A warlord's life
Jan 1996 - survives siege of Pervomaisk

March 1996 - shot in the head but survives

Feb 1998 - claims assassination attempt on Eduard Shevardnadze

1999 - major plastic surgery

March 2000 - caught in Chechnya
However, he reappeared four months later after treatment abroad, becoming a bitter opponent of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov.

He is the most high-profile figure yet captured by Russian forces in Chechnya.

Mr Putin said the hostage-taking raid had resulted in the loss of civilian lives.

He also said that Mr Raduyev's claim of involvement in a 1998 assassination attempt on the Georgian President, Eduard Shevardnadze, would be investigated to ascertain whether it was true or just "showing off".

Russian TV has shown pictures of the man they say is Salman Raduyev
The acting president accused Mr Raduyev's gang of train robberies and bomb attacks on railway stations in the southern Russian cities of Armavir and Pyatigorsk.

He added that the warlord had stolen more than half a million roubles intended as wages for Chechen schoolteachers.

Propaganda victory

Mr Raduyev's staff reported last month he had been killed in battle and buried, but Russian commanders refused to believe the story.

A press release issued by Russia's command in Chechnya said: "Ringleaders of separatists, to avoid retribution for committed crimes, are trying to falsify the fact of their death."

Mr Raduyev is respected by some Chechens partly because he is a relative of the late president, Dzhokhar Dudayev, who was killed by a Russian missile in 1996.

Last year he underwent major surgery to reconstruct his face, having first signed an agreement promising not to take revenge on the surgeons if the operation proved unsuccessful.

The BBC's Moscow correspondent says that Mr Raduyev's capture is a propaganda victory for Russia, but other far more powerful rebel leaders remain at large.

  • Russian presidential envoy Sergey Yastrzhembskiy said on Monday that direct presidential rule will be introduced in Chechnya after the presidential elections on 26 March, Russian Ekho Moskvy radio reported.

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    11 Mar 00 | Europe
    Chechen fighters hold out
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