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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FSB Captures Raduyev in Chechnya

Acting President Vladimir Putin said Monday that security forces had netted Chechen warlord Salman Raduyev in a secret weekend operation and brought him to Moscow to stand trial.

ORT television showed a somber-looking Raduyev in a dark shirt answering an investigator's questions. His thick beard had been shaved off and he was without the trademark sunglasses he has worn since he was seriously wounded in the first war. He lost an eye and underwent extensive plastic surgery.

The seizure of Raduyev, 33, a flamboyant rebel commander best known for a hostage-taking raid in 1996, is a major propaganda coup for Moscow. He is the first rebel leader to be captured since the military campaign began in September.

"Yesterday as a result of a special operation carried out by the FSB, one of the most odious bandit leaders, Salman Raduyev, was seized and brought to Moscow," Putin said at a Cabinet meeting.

"Now he is in prison, which is the right place for him. We would like to think that this is just the beginning."

In the brief ORT footage, filmed at Moscow's Lefortovo prison, Raduyev confirmed his name and gave his date of birth as Feb. 13, 1967, and his birthplace as Gudermes, the second biggest town in Chechnya.

Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev told reporters that Raduyev was captured Sunday morning in the Gudermes area without any shots being fired, even though the warlord usually has about 100 men guarding him.

"Raduyev was shocked by what happened," Interfax quoted Patrushev as saying.

A Chechen representative in Moscow, however, said there was something strange about Raduyev's capture and speculated that he was tricked by the FSB.

On Jan. 20, Nezavisimaya Gazeta published a photocopy of what it said was a letter from Raduyev to Viktor Kazantsev, the commander of federal troops in Chechnya. The letter said Raduyev and his fighters were ready either to kill or arrest warlord Shamil Basayev and hand him over in exchange for $1 million.

The letter said federal troops should allow Raduyev and his unit to safely leave for a foreign country in exchange for delivering Basayev.

FSB officers could have pretended to have agreed to Raduyev's terms and offered to meet him for further negotiations only to seize him, Dzhabrail Gakayev, head of the Chechen Cultural Center, said in an interview.

"It all looks suspicious," said Gakayev, who Moscow authorities recognize as a spokesman for Chechens.

Raduyev was charged with terrorism late Monday, Interfax reported, citing the Prosecutor General's Office.

Putin said Raduyev would also be investigated for his self-proclaimed role in bomb explosions in two southern Russian railway stations and in an attempt to assassinate Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in 1998.

FSB spokesman Alexander Zdanovich told ORT that Raduyev would also be quizzed over a possible link to the apartment building bombings in September in which 300 people died.