Basayev Nyet?

As Shamil Basayev’s death moves off the news radar, Kommersant continues to give updates to the story. According to ? correspondent Nikolai Sergeev,

The process of identifying the remains of Basaev has come to a standstill. Visual identification is impossible. Pathologists were able to take the fingerprints of the five fingers that survived the blast and to take biological samples. But they have nothing to compare them with. Basaev’s fingerprints are not on file anywhere and no usable prints were found at the site of the blast. Investigators are looking for a parent, sibling or child of the terrorist, but they have been unsuccessful in their search so far.

The reigning theory now is that the FSB has taken Basayev’s 24 year old brother-in-law, Ibragim Tsakaev, into custody as a way to pressure the remaining members of the slain terrorist’s family to help identify his remains. There is no other reason, argues Sergeev, because Tsakaev is no longer in active combat and his activities consist of difficult to prove allegations of raising money for the movement. “Representatives of the Ichkerian regime living abroad say that Tsakaev is practically a hostage and only Basaev’s close relatives can free him only by meeting their demands. They want biomaterial: blood samples, hair samples or nail clippings,” explains Sergeev.

Nothing could be more downright embarrassing for the FSB and Putin. Not only does their difficulties in identifying the body further prove that they did not have a hand in his demise, it shows their utter desperation. Putin’s prize is quickly revealing the FSB’s incompetence. What is more disturbing is that the arrest of relatives is a standard FSB strategy.

A similar strategy was used last year when the relatives of former Ichkerian president Aslan Maskhadov. Several of his relatives were rounded up in an effort to discover his location. Authorities did not succeed in that goal, but held them until close relatives agreed to give biological samples. The genetic material received from them was used in the eventual identification of Maskhadov’s body.