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Assassinated Chechen President Buried in Home Village - 2004-05-10


Pro-Moscow Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, killed in a bomb attack at a crowded stadium in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on Sunday, has been buried in his home village in Chechnya.

Thousands of people from Grozny and other settlements in the southern Russian republic made their way to the village of Tsentoroi to pay their last respects to Mr. Kadyrov.

He was one of six people killed in Sunday morning's blast during annual Victory Day celebrations marking Russia's victory over Nazi Germany during World War II.

Russian television broadcast images of the funeral in which Mr. Kadyrov's body was carried through the streets under a white wool mourning shroud, in accordance with Islamic tradition.

The chairman of the Chechen State Council, Khusein Isayev, also died in the attack and was to be buried in a nearby village. A three-day mourning period is expected to be observed.

Russia's top general overseeing the war in Chechnya, Valery Baranov, was seriously injured in the attack, but he was reported in stable condition Monday after having a leg amputated.

Security sources now say as many as three bombs were planted in the packed stadium, but only one, reported to have been an artillery shell, went off. Security officials have been placed on highest alert and a full-scale search is under way for possible suspects involved in the blast.

Russia's Federal Prosecutor General in the region, Sergei Fridinski, says that contrary to media reports, no arrests have been made. Mr. Fridinski says criminal investigators are focusing their first efforts on those charged with providing security for the annual Victory Day events.

No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, but Russian suspicion immediately fell on Chechen separatists.

After a brief meeting in Moscow late Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the acting president of Chechnya, Sergei Abramov, returned to Grozny to assume his new duties. Mr. Abramov, a 32-year-old former banker, is seen by most analysts as having little real influence in the volatile region.

President Putin earlier vowed certain retribution for the attack, which creates serious problems for the Kremlin effort to portray the conflict in Chechnya as normalized.

Some Russian politicians are already calling for Moscow to assume direct rule over Chechnya - a policy that, in the past, yielded limited results.

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