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Driver, 2 bodyguards of late Chechen separatist leader surrender

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A driver and two bodyguards of late Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev have surrendered to local authorities, the law-enforcement bodies of Chechnya's capital said Sunday.
GROZNY, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - A driver and two bodyguards of late Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev have surrendered to local authorities, the law-enforcement bodies of Chechnya's capital said Sunday.

Following the killing of Chechnya's number one terrorist, Shamil Basayev, Russian authorities announced a partial amnesty July 15, 2006 for militants who were not involved in major atrocities. The amnesty deadline expires January 15, 2007.

"An unemployed resident of the village of Stariye Atagi, who worked as the personal driver of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev between December 1995 and January 1997, turned himself in to the Grozny interior department Saturday," the law-enforcement bodies said.

Also, a resident of Grozny and a resident of the village of Stariye Atagi, both unemployed, surrendered to local authorities. According to preliminary information, they served as the bodyguards of Yandarbiyev in 1995-1999," the law-enforcement bodies said.

Yandarbiyev, former vice president of Ichkeria - the name separatists use for "independent" Chechnya, died in a car bombing in Qatar in February 2004. Two Russian agents were later convicted of his killing in a local court but released to Russia five months later. Once at home, they were reportedly decorated, but there have been no official announcements on what happened to them upon their return.

Charges were brought against Yandarbiyev as well as two other separatist leaders - late Shamil Basayev, and Akhmed Zakayev who is currently residing in London - for masterminding the siege of a Moscow theater in October 2002. About 1,000 people were then taken hostage and more than 100 died during the operation to release them, according to official statistics.

Yandarbiyev was also wanted in Russia for organizing "an armed militant invasion" of Russia's southern republic of Dagestan in 1999, which led to the second federal campaign against separatists.

On January 12, Amirkhan Yandarbiyev, the security chief of Yandarbiyev, and his two bodyguards also surrendered to local authorities in an amnesty bid, the local law-enforcement bodies said.

According to the National Antiterrorism Committee, more than 470 militants have accepted the surrender offer since its announcement, mainly in Chechnya, and returned to normal life.

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