$10 Million Bounty

Russia Paid Bounty on Chechen Rebel Leader (Reuters)

Russia said on Tuesday it had paid millions of dollars to reward the people who helped it find and kill Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, as an outcry grew over Moscow̢۪s refusal to return his body for burial.

Maskhadov was killed a week ago in what troops said was a targeted raid, but Russian and foreign media raised questions over the manner of the veteran rebel̢۪s death and activists have slammed the decision to bury him in an unmarked grave.

The former Soviet army colonel̢۪s half-naked corpse has been shown repeatedly on television and critics say Russia̢۪s failure to treat him with dignity in defeat threatens to radicalise Chechen rebels further.

The Federal Security Service (FSB), successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said it had received a tip-off from citizens responding to a $10 million bounty on the leaders of the Chechen separatist movement in September 2004.

“This helped us establish the precise location of the international terrorist and band leader of the Chechen republic Aslan Maskhadov and conduct a special operation,” an FSB spokesman said.

Maskhadov led resistance to Moscow̢۪s rule in Chechnya for a decade and his killing was a notable success for Russian forces.

But analysts say the relative moderate̢۪s death could open the way for extremists to take full control of separatist forces. And activists say the decision to invoke Russia̢۪s anti-terrorism law and refuse to give his body for burial by relatives, who have already appealed for its return, is a violation of human rights.

The government’s moves seem pretty ill-advised. As the story notes, they’ll likely provoke extremists, who are bound to assume more power anyway with Maskhadov’s death. In addition, those who worry about Vladimir Putin’s recent usurpation of power will have their fears confirmed.

FILED UNDER: World Politics
Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. slickdpdx says:

    I am not so sure that the Russian thinking is wrong. The unmarked burial place seems a very good idea. The attempt to de-mysitfy a charismatic leader by showing humiliating pictures of his defeat may succeed. Though it seems certain to provoke some, it is not certain that it will only provoke.

  2. McGehee says:

    Extremists don’t require much in the way of provocation, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to worry about it.

  3. Lurking Observer says:

    Where’s the outcry?

    Can you imagine if Saddam Hussein were shown in less than sartorial splendor, the outcry that would erupt?

    Actually, of course, if you look at the coverage of the time….

  4. Bob says:

    I hope we do something similar when we get Bin Laden.