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OSCE In Grozny Recives A Letter Confirming Dudayev's Death

Grozny, April 24 (RFE/RL) - An official in the Grozny representative's office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says a top Chechen separatist official has written to the OSCE, saying that Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev is dead.

Reuters news agency quoted OSCE official Zenon Kuchciak as saying in Grozny that the OSCE "has received a letter that Dudayev was killed." But he said the OSCE "has no independent confirmation" of the information.

The OSCE official said the letter was signed by Dudayev's vice president, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. According to a number of Chechen separatist officials, including influential field commander Shamil Basayev, Yandarbiev, who is Dudayev's vice-president, has taken over following Dudayev's reported death last weekend during a Russian airstrike.

An RFE/RL correspondent in Chechnya quoted a statement of Dudayev's government issued today, saying that according to the constitution of the self-declared Chechen republic of Ichkeria, the vice president automatically becomes president.