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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gelayev Confirmed Dead in Dagestan

APA forensic expert examining Gelayev's body Monday at a morgue in Makhachkala, Dagestan. The FSB said he was killed Saturday.
MAKHACHKALA -- Authorities said Tuesday that they have confirmed that a man killed in Dagestan over the weekend was Ruslan Gelayev, one of Chechnya's most powerful rebel warlords.

In Moscow, an official at the Federal Security Service, or FSB, said authorities had determined that the body of a man who appeared to have been killed in a clash with border guards was that of Gelayev. The official, who declined to give his name, would not say whether the identification had been confirmed by an autopsy.

In comments broadcast on Rossia television, chief FSB spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko said there were several "indirect indications" that it was Gelayev, including a leg wound and personal belongings "that he never went without," such as a dagger.

Rossia showed footage of the corpse in a morgue examination room.

The deputy chief of investigations in the Dagestani prosecutor's office, Seifudin Kaziakhmedov, said eight suspected rebels who are under investigation had identified the body as Gelayev's.

Gelayev, 39, won notoriety during the first war of the past decade between federal forces and separatist Chechen rebels, in 1994-96. He also played a prominent role in the second war, which began in September 1999, leading numerous raids and ambushes against the federal forces.

"The FSB considers Gelayev one of the key figures among leaders of extremists active in the Chechen Republic and emphasizes the importance of his liquidation," Ignatchenko was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.

The FSB believes Gelayev set up bases and led training of militants in the Pankisi Gorge, an area in Georgia near the Chechen border, Itar-Tass reported.

Russia had repeatedly accused Gelayev of using the gorge as a launch-pad for attacks in Russia and urged Georgian authorities to capture and extradite him.

However, Kremlin-backed Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov said that "the shooting in Chechnya and terrorist acts will not stop" because of Gelayev's death and that he was not part of a group of leading warlords including Shamil Basayev, Itar-Tass reported.

Officials in the past have repeatedly reported Gelayev's death. The last widespread report came after officials accused him of leading a band of rebels who killed nine border guards during a foray in Dagestan's mountains near the border with Chechnya in December.

The body authorities said was Gelayev's was found near the bodies of two border guards outside a village in the same region in southwestern Dagestan where the December foray took place. An FSB official said Gelayev, who also was known as Khamzat, died Saturday.

Salambek Maigov, a former rebel envoy to Moscow, said Gelayev will be mourned in Chechnya. "He saw this war as a war against the Chechen people. Because of this he had great respect among Chechens," he said on Ekho Moskvy radio.