The body of a man who looked like Gelayev had been found in
Dagestan, which borders war-torn Chechnya, after a fight that also left two border guards dead, law enforcement officials told Russian news agencies on Monday.

Previously-captured Chechen fighters have identified the body, which was found without documents in western Dagestan, as that of Gelayev, who has eluded Russia's attempts to capture or kill him for years.


Unsubstantiated reports of Gelayev's death have been reported several times since Vladimir Putin launched the current Russo-Chechen war in October 1999 as prime minister.

Putin was elected Russia's president on the back of support for the operation and the latest report of Gelayev's death comes less than two weeks before Putin stands for an almost certain re-election. 

Among Gelayev's most spectacular exploits was the taking of the Komsomolskoye village in Chechnya in March 2000, shortly after Russian troops drove rebels from the capital Grozny.
  
After fierce fighting that lasted days, federal forces
eventually recaptured the village, killing hundreds of fighters, but Gelayev escaped into the mountains from where he was reported since then to have staged isolated raids against Russian targets.