$10 Million Bounty
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 MoscowÃ¢€™s 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 rebelÃ¢€™s death and activists have slammed the decision to bury him in an unmarked grave.
The former Soviet army colonelÃ¢€™s half-naked corpse has been shown repeatedly on television and critics say RussiaÃ¢€™s 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.
Ã¢€œThis helped us establish the precise location of the international terrorist and band leader of the Chechen republic Aslan Maskhadov and conduct a special operation,Ã¢€ an FSB spokesman said.
Maskhadov led resistance to MoscowÃ¢€™s rule in Chechnya for a decade and his killing was a notable success for Russian forces.
But analysts say the relative moderateÃ¢€™s death could open the way for extremists to take full control of separatist forces. And activists say the decision to invoke RussiaÃ¢€™s 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.