Chechen fighter promises to fight on

A Chechen separatist leader, Shamil Basayev, has appeared on British television to threaten more operations similar to last year's school-siege in Beslan.

    Basayev promised more attacks until Russia quits Chechnya

    Sitting calmly behind a laptop computer and clutching a grenade launcher, Basayev claimed responsibility for the Beslan-siege and said he would fight on because of Moscow's refusal to leave Chechnya.

    The UK's Channel 4 aired the exclusive interview on Thursday over protests by the Russian government that the broadcast amounted to dangerous terrorist propaganda.

    "We are planning more Beslan-type operations in the future because we are forced to do so," Basayev - Russia's public enemy number one - said.

    Blaming Russia

    Wearing a black T-shirt with Anti-Terror written in white Cyrillic letters, Basayev said he believed the Kremlin, not himself, was the terrorist.

    Referring to the Beslan primary school siege last September, Basayev blamed the Russian authorities for its bloody ending.

    "We are planning more Beslan-type operations in the future because we are forced to do so"

    Shamil Basayev,
    Chechen separatist leader

    "To be honest, I am even shocked by what happened there and am still in a state of shock after it," he said.

    The school siege in the North Ossetia town claimed 344 lives, half of them children.

    Believed to be hiding in the mountains of southern Chechnya, Basayev warned that all Russians remained a target.

    "They are not peaceful people for us, peaceful people for us are those that do not pay taxes for this war, people who do not participate and who speak out against this."

    He, however, promised to put himself on trial if Russia withdrew completely from Chechnya.

    The interview took months of covert preparations by Channel 4, involving secret meetings in undisclosed locations in Europe and the Middle East.

    Basayev, who is also allegedly linked to a siege on a Moscow theatre in 2002 that killed 120 as well as a deadly attack last year on two Russian airliners, has a $10-million bounty on his head.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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