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#13 - JRL 7208
Russians uncover Chechen rebel leader's archive

Khankala, 3 June: Russian federal forces have found an archive belonging to Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov in the village of Makhkety of Vedenskiy District, spokesman for the regional staff for the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus, Col Ilya Shabalkin, told Interfax on Tuesday [3 June].

He said this is the largest of Maskhadov's archives found since the antiterrorist campaign in Chechnya was launched. The documents were found in the basement of a house belonging to a Makhkety resident, Shabalkin said.

The analysis of the papers contained in the cache gives grounds to assume that Maskhadov had large amounts of money denominated in foreign currency at his disposal in 1999, Shabalkin said. Finances allotted at that time from the Russian budget for healthcare programmes, pensions, children's allowances and other social purposes did not reach those to whom they were transferred but got into the hands of Maskhadov and other dishonest Chechen leaders, he said.

All cases when large sums of money were provided to field commanders were registered in receipts, Shabalkin said. The matter involves hundreds of thousands of US dollars which did not reach ordinary rebels, he said.

According to the documents, prominent warlord Shamil Basayev received 700,000 dollars from Maskhadov on 3 July 1999. Shabalkin noted that this sheds some light on who might have been the real organizers behind the attack by gangs led by Basayev and [Arab warlord] Khattab on Dagestan and how this affair might have been financed.

Shabalkin also said Makshadov attached particular significance to organizing an information war against the federal forces and the Russian leadership. To this end, a detailed plan of action was drawn up under the code-name Lift, which entailed financing political figures and Western journalists. In particular, it envisioned the establishment of an official news agency called Chechenvoyenpress along with a telecommunications network and printed publications designed to distribute misinformation to benefit warlords in Russia and abroad, Shabalkin said.

The plan not only fully and clearly sets out the objectives and goals of an information war, Shabalkin said, but also shows how easily Lift's authors would appeal to the UN, OSCE and other international organizations and use world information resources.

In the spokesman's view, this task was obviously too difficult to accomplish for either Maskhadov, Basayev or prominent Chechen ideologist Movladi Udugov, which gives grounds to assume that the illegal armed formations in Chechnya were supported by special services from countries seeking to benefit from the escalation of tensions in the North Caucasus. To support his point, he also referred to the presence of foreign instructors and mercenaries in Chechen guerrilla camps, the operation of Chechen information centres in various countries in Europe, Asia and America, and the fact that certain countries have given shelter to prominent Chechen separatist figures, such as Udugov, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev and Akhmed Zakayev.

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