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Chechnya: Former Commander Raduev Dies In Russian Prison

Moscow, 16 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Interfax news agency says former Chechen commander Salman Raduev, sentenced to life imprisonment a year ago for a spectacular hostage taking in 1996, has died in prison. Interfax quotes the Justice Ministry as saying that Raduev died in the Ural city of Perm and that the causes of his death are still being determined.

The commander was convicted by a court in the southern Russian republic of Daghestan for the seizure of around 3,000 people in the town of Kizlyar in January 1996 and sentenced on 25 December last year to life imprisonment.

The hostage takers, who broke through to safety in neighboring Chechnya, released their prisoners.

But some 200 people -- including 78 Russian soldiers -- are estimated to have died in fighting during the incident.