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RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) - Aslan Maskhadov, prominent on the Chechen separatist top, is gone. Overseas aid to separatists is sure to drastically shrink with his death, expects Aslambek Aslakhanov, adviser to federal President Vladimir Putin.

"Putting it figuratively, Maskhadov was a banner round which the banditry and other Chechen formations were rallying. If he and [Shamil] Basayev had never existed, they would have to be invented," he said to a Novosti news conference today.

"Certain countries' secret services and particular countries were financing paramilitaries. Now, we can expect them to stop helping an amorphous force with no proper political status.

"The money inflow to Chechnya has dwindled even now. A terror act costs much less than before."

As Mr. Aslakhanov sees it, talks are to go on with rebels who mean to surrender. "There are people not ready to get back to peaceful ways merely because they will have to answer for past sins. There are downright bandits, and there are people who were forced to take up arms-we must see the difference.

"I am not one of the people who insist on fighting to go on to the last Chechen or the last [federal] soldier. One ought always to seek ways to peaceful settlement," stressed the presidential adviser.

He expects paramilitary chieftains to come to grips now for Aslan Maskhadov's place. "A pretty fight is likely to start. I don't think, for that matter, that the rebels will find Maskhadov an irreparable loss.

"His death does not spell an end to the war-what we have to deal with [in Chechnya] is a guerrilla warfare with mines laid. I know better than to say terror acts and vengeful outbreaks will finish now."

Aslambek Aslakhanov thinks Aslan Maskhadov's relations ought to receive his body for proper funeral. "I don't think anything awful will come up if we let Maskhadov or others be decently buried. After all, parents should not be in answer for what their children have done."

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