CHECHNYA: TO SEE MASKHADOV DEAD IS LAST THING KADYROV WANTS AS HE OPENS PURSE

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ROSTOV-ON-DON, April 14 (RIA Novosti) - President Ahmad Kadyrov of Chechnya is offering a reward for tips on the present whereabouts of Aslan Maskhadov, separatist leader and once President of Ichkeria, as separatists term their republic.

"Whoever helps to track down Maskhadov will have big money," the president said to a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, in European Russia's south. He did not specify the offered sum.

Kadyrov flatly denied rumours of his talks with Maskhadov. He came, a few days ago, across a newspaper report of his phone talks with the separatist leader, with reference to "reliable informants". "That was a blatant lie!" snapped the president. He says he has had no contacts at all, telephone talks included, with Aslan Maskhadov ever since a second Chechen campaign broke out late in summer 1999. "We had contacts via the media or through visitors," he acknowledged without specifying the "visitors".

Ahmad Kadyrov is not at all eager to see Aslan Maskhadov dead, and intends to intervene for him. Possibly, it will be an application to the law for mercy, he said.

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