Moscow, 25 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A Russian Interior Ministry official says separatist Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has personally organized the raid on a Moscow theater where Chechen militants are holding hundreds of hostages. Russian Deputy Interior Minister Vasilii Vasilev said today his allegations are based on the hostage takers' comments as shown on the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera television.
He said that on a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera the hostage takers said they were acting under orders from the Chechen Republic's military commander.
An official in the Kremlin's crisis center told ITAR-TASS news agency that the hostage takers' commander, Movsar Baraev, told the British newspaper "The Sunday Times" that he was keeping in contact with Maskhadov.
Yesterday, Chechnya's separatist leadership denied that the hostage takers are controlled by separatist leadership.