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Basaev claims responsibility for Moscow hostage taking

Field commander Shamil Basaev, whom Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov named to head his government's Military Committee in late June, has claimed responsibility for last week's hostage taking at a Moscow theater by Chechen militants, Caucasus Press reported on 1 November, quoting Kavkaz-Tsentr. Basaev admitted the assault did not achieve its objective of ending the war and the "genocide of the Chechen people," but added that "next time we will send people who will not take hostages or make any demands. These people will simply destroy [our] enemies."

...Moscow continues to press for extraditions

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 1 November that he hopes the information submitted to Denmark on Chechen Vice Premier Akhmed Zakaev constitutes sufficient grounds for his extradition to Russia, RIA-Novosti reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko stated Russia "is outraged" that Georgia continues to delay the promised extradition of eight alleged Chechen fighters detained in that country in early August, polit.ru reported on 1 November.

...Duma bans returning bodies of killed terrorists

The Duma on 1 November passed in all three readings an amendment to the law on terrorism that authorizes the government to refuse to return the bodies of those killed during antiterrorism operations to their families, lenta.ru and other Russian news agencies. The amendment also allows the government to refuse to divulge to relatives where those killed have been buried. Corresponding amendments to the law on interment and burial were also adopted. If passed by the Federation Council and endorsed by the president, the amendments will apply to the Chechen fighters killed during last month's hostage crisis in Moscow.

...and tightens control over media reporting on antiterrorism operations

State Duma deputies on 1 November passed in their third and final reading amendments to the laws on the mass media and on combating terrorism, Russian news agencies reported. If adopted into law, the amendments will make it illegal to publicize any information about technical methods and tactics used during antiterrorism operations, newsru.com reported. They also ban the publication, broadcast, or posting on the Internet of any "propaganda or justification" of extremism. They forbid the publication of personal information about security-forces personnel or anyone assisting them in conducting antiterrorism operations. Finally, the amendments would outlaw the publication of information about building weapons or explosive devices. The amendments needed 226 votes to pass and received 231, with 106 deputies voting against. They were supported by the Unity faction, Fatherland-All Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), People's Deputy, Russian Regions, and the Communist Party. Deputies from the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) and Yabloko either opposed the amendments or abstained from voting.

(RFE/RL 01.xi.02)

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