Security services want any information that could help "neutralise" leaders Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev, following the Beslan school siege, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Wednesday.

In December 2003, the son of slain Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov offered to pay a $5 million bounty for Basayev's capture and $50,000 for Maskhadov, saying Basayev posed a much greater threat.

 

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday evening it would step up its efforts to persuade Britain to extradite Maskhadov's spokesman Akhmed Zakayev, who was granted asylum last year.

Maskhadov aides have denied he had any role in the school siege. Basayev has made no comments as yet.

Pre-emptive strikes

Meanwhile, Russia is preparing to launch pre-emptive strikes on bases used for training militants anywhere in the world, a senior general was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Shamil Basayev already has a
$5 million price on his head

"As for launching pre-emptive strikes on terrorist bases, we will carry out all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world," General Yuri Baluevsky said, according to Russian news agencies.

 

"However, this does not mean that we will launch nuclear strikes."

In a speech calling for the reform of the country's security services, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia's borders had become porous and "unprotected from either West or East", and that corruption had pervaded the law-enforcement agencies. 

He called for mobilising the nation against the "common danger of terrorism". He said measures would be taken to strengthen Russia's territorial integrity, create a more effective crisis-management system, and overhaul the law-enforcement organs.