Andrew Osborn

 

 

Chief Russia Correspondent

 

Deputy Bureau Chief Russia/CIS

 

Reuters

 

 

Russians reveal ‘Bond plot’ that killed Butcher of Beslan

The Independent, 27th March 2007 12:14

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow

The James Bond-like plot apparently used by the Kremlin to kill its most dangerous enemy – the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev – has been laid bare by a Russian newspaper, angering the dead terrorist’s supporters.

The 41-year-old rebel, known as “the Butcher of Beslan” because of his role in masterminding the school siege, was killed last July in what the FSB security service boasted was a sophisticated “special operation”. He died when a lorry carrying an arms shipment for the rebels blew up. At least three of his comrades were also killed.

But the explosion was apparently so powerful that the Kremlin has not been able to produce Basayev’s body. His supporters claim the explosion that killed him was an accident while others, including the murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya, have suggested that he may not be dead at all but had struck a deal with the FSB to disappear and change his identity.

However, what looked like official photographs of the special operation that culminated in his death have appeared in the daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets alongside a detailed account of the attack. The report looked like a deliberate leak from the FSB.

In an article that read like a script from a James Bond film, it told of a decoy lorry, of female FSB agents posing as waitresses, of doctored food and drink, and a lorry stuffed with enough guns and explosives to start a small war.

According to the newspaper, an FSB agent infiltrated Basayev’s entourage and the two drivers delivering the arms shipment to him were drugged and the lorry mined.

But Basayev’s supporters said that they doubted the account. The rebels’ main website likened it to the script from “a third-rate Russian blockbuster”.