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Who is Movsar Barayev?








: Artyom Vernidoub  

Attempts to negotiate the release of hostages trapped in a theatre building in southeast Moscow have so far brought no results. In the meantime, some observers are concluding that the Chechen rebels responsible for the terrorist act are avenging field commander Arbi Barayev, killed a year ago.


According to the BBC, Movladi Udugov, a close associate of Aslan Maskhadov and chief spokesman for the Chechen separatists, called them and said that the hostage-takers belonged to the unit of Movsar Barayev, Arbi's nephew. The military have reported him killed on several occasions in the past, with the last reports issued only a couple of weeks ago.

According to Chechen sources, the group, comprised of Mujahideen gunmen and 20 widows of rebel fighters, describe themselves as a ''suicide death squad'', and they came to Moscow not to survive but to die if their demands are not met by the federal authorities. They have said they will blow up the theatre building if any attempt to storm it is made by the authorities, Udugov said.

The same reports emerged on the Chechen rebels web-site kavkaz.org soon afterwards. Separatist news agencies claimed: ''Chechen Mujahideen gunmen have seized a Moscow theatre and taken over 1000 people hostage. Movsar Barayev heads the unit comprised of gunmen and widows of Chechen fighters. The building is mined. All the participants in the operation are strapped with explosives

''Barayev asserts that the unit that attacked Moscow is a suicide death squad. Their only demands are putting an end to the war and the beginning of an immediate withdrawal by the occupying troops. Barayev also stated that Chechen Mujahideen had arrived in Moscow not to survive, but to die. He also reported that all children who were in the theatre building have been released.''

Movsar Barayev is also known as Movsar Suleimenov. He is the nephew of the infamous warlord Arbi Barayev, who gained notoriety by establishing a huge slave-trading network throughout Chechnya. Arbi Barayev was slain in summer 2001 in his home village of Alkhan-Kala. After his uncles death Movsar took command of most of his uncles men.

It is believed that Suleimenov and his younger subordinates controlled all the rebel groups in Grozny, though his name was hardly ever mentioned in connection with rebel raids against the federals. Federal forces, though, have repeatedly claimed to have killed him.

On October 12 the deputy commander of the combined federal forces in Chechnya Boris Podoprigora reported that Barayev was killed in an artillery raid. The official notice read that Barayev was killed by precision strikes delivered by Russian artillery and the Air Force. Governmental news agency RIA-Novosti reported that the warlord and his gang were destroyed near the village of Komsomolskoye, in the Urus Martan district of the republic.

Usually in cases when famous rebels are destroyed the military are anxious to display the dead body of their victim to the media, as was the case with the infamous Arab mercenary Khattab and Arbi Barayev. Movsars body, however, was never shown.

More than a year earlier, on August 21, 2001 the Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that Movsar Barayev had been liquidated as a result of a special operation. According to the FSB report, Barayevs men were well armed and fought to the last. A week later more reports officially confirming his death. But then Barayev rose from the dead and began making comments for rebel web sites. The federals once again had to admit that previous reports of his death were false.

In an interview to NTV television the chief of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, Akhmad Kadyrov, agreed that Movsar Barayev might be among the terrorists who seized the Nord-Ost theatre in Moscow. However, in his opinion, Barayevs unit is not strong enough to carry out such a raid.

''Yes, I know him,'' said Kadyrov. ''But he does not have the kind of group to come here or to fly here. He has no more than 10 people. He may be taking part, but not commanding.''

Presidential representative for the Chechen Republic Adlan Magomadov reported that representatives of the Chechen Diaspora in Moscow were ready to voluntarily exchange themselves for hostages. Furthermore, he claimed they are ready to take part in the storming of the building.

The siege at the theatre building in southeast Moscow looks set to continue for some time. Gazeta.Ru will report on any further developments.

24 14:44
































    



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