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RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - The international Arab terrorists operating in Chechnya need leader of the Chechen militants Shamil Basayev alive as a symbol of separatism, an expert on the struggle against terrorism, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, told RIA Novosti.

"The international terrorists need him alive. For them he is a cover of the interests of the extremist organizations operating on the territory of the North Caucasus," RIA Novosti's interlocutor said.

He said that Basayev's name guarantees the allocation of financial resources by the international terrorist organizations to perpetrate terrorist acts in the North-Caucasian region.

Commenting on media's reports on Basayev's death, the expert noted that, to the best of his knowledge, the Russian power structures have no direct proof of Basayev's death.

"As for the Basayev interview that appeared on the separatists' Internet site the day before in which [Basayev] demonstrates his 'good' physical form, this footage could have been filmed much earlier. It may be one of the old records," the expert noted.

He also did not rule out that the footage might be of Basayev's double. "Specialists must study this material and voice their judgment," he noted.

The power structures of Chechnya's administration think that the reports about death of the warlord were initiated by Basayev himself or by his retinue.

"These are highly likely to be rumors spread by order of Basayev himself. In all probability, the aim of granting a respite to him and his militant group is pursued in this case," a source in the republican power structures told RIA Novosti.

He did not rule out that the fact that Shamil Basayev might now stay outside Russia to undergo medical treatment. This source also added that the Russian law-enforcement agencies have no information about Basayev's death.

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