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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Senior Rebel Gives Up And Appeals to Voters

For MTKhizir Khachukayev
A senior Chechen rebel has surrendered and appeared on state television on the eve of Chechnya's parliamentary elections to urge his former comrades-in-arms to lay down their weapons and to call on all Chechens to vote.

Khizir Khachukayev, who had fought against federal troops since 1994 and was promoted to the rank of brigade general by Chechnya's first separatist president, Jokhar Dudayev, made his appeal on Channel One's news show "Vremya" on Wednesday night, and he was shown in Moscow with the Ostankino television tower behind him.

"I announce the dismissal of my units and the end of illegal activity on the territory of the republic," Khachukayev said.

"I call on the Chechen people to think of how we will further live, of how our children will live, and call on them to take active part in the parliamentary elections in the Chechen republic in order to further build all institutions of power," he said.

Kommersant, citing sources in the Chechen government, reported Thursday that Khachukayev had surrendered after five years of negotiations and only after Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov guaranteed him immunity from criminal prosecution.

The newspaper said the deal had been difficult to reach because four Federal Security Service officers had been killed in one of several special operations aimed at killing Khachukayev, a close ally of late separatist President Aslan Maskhadov.

Meanwhile, four men who were with Maskhadov during his last days and were arrested after he was killed by federal security forces in March are facing sentences of nine to 17 years in prison on charges of participating in an illegal armed formation as their trial wraps up in the Chechen Supreme Court in Grozny. The sentences were proposed by a state prosecutor Wednesday.

Defense lawyers urged the court to acquit the defendants or to acknowledge them as war prisoners and keep them in custody until the conflict in Chechnya ended, Izvestia reported Thursday.