March 3, 2004
Authorities confirmed that a man killed in Dagestan on February 28 was Ruslan Gelayev, one of Chechnya's most powerful rebel warlords. While two captured rebels from Gelayev's group had identified the body as his, forensic experts will examine the body to confirm its identity. Several times in the past, Russian officials have reported Gelayev's death and the latest claim could not immediately be confirmed.
The body of the notorious field commander was found in the snow 100 meters away from the bodies of a two-man Border Guard patrol he had killed. A reconnaissance unit discovered their bodies on the 29th, about five kilometers away from a village Gelayev had frequented in the past. During a December 2003 foray, Gelayev led a band of rebels who killed nine border guards in Dagestan's mountains near the Chechen frontier. The 39 year old Gelayev won notoriety during the First Chechen War (1994-96) and also played a prominent role in the second war (which began in September 1999), leading numerous raids and ambushes against Russian forces. - Adam Geibel