The Russian daily "Kommersant" posted on March 6 a photo of a dead fighter who bore a strong resemblance to Buryatsky. That photo has since been removed from the website, but was reposted on kavkazcenter.com.
Buryatsky, whose formal name was Aleksandr Tikhomirov, was born in 1982 in Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia. His father was a Buddhist, as are the majority of Buryats; his mother was Russian. He reportedly converted to Islam at the age of 15. He studied at a Muslim theological institute in Orenburg run by one of Russia's official Muslim Spiritual Boards, and then, from 2002-2005, in Cairo and Kuwait.
In May 2008, Buryatsky travelled to the North Caucasus and pledged loyalty to Umarov. He quickly achieved notoriety by virtue of Internet homilies urging young Muslims to join Umarov's jihad.
It was reportedly Buryatsky who last year revived the Riyadus-Salikhiin suicide brigade originally formed by renegade field commander Shamil Basayev. Suicide bombers perpetrated a string of attacks last summer, the most prominent of which were the car bomb attack on June 22 that narrowly failed to kill Ingushetian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, and a second car-bomb attack two months later on police headquarters in Nazran that killed 21 people and injured dozens.
Shortly thereafter, one of the insurgency websites posted footage of Buryatsky riding in the back seat of a car with a large barrel of explosive; he announced that he was about to perpetrate an act of terrorism. It was therefore widely assumed that he was one of two suicide bombers killed in the August 17 attack.
But on October 14, Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, said that a warrant had been issued for Buryatsky's arrest in connection with the bid to assassinate Yevkurov, and that four other militants likewise believed to have participated in that attack had been killed (two of them in June, two in August).
On March 6, Yevkurov met with relatives of the men apprehended during the course of the March 2 operation, who have reportedly been taken to Moscow for questioning. He said, as he has done in the past, that the republic's authorities are not out to "kill all criminals," but want on the contrary to "persuade as many people as possible" to abandon the path of banditry." That statement is less than convincing in light of the reportedly arbitrary reprisals perpetrated during the course of the March 2 operation.
During that meeting with relatives of those detained, Yevkurov reportedly identified Buryatsky as responsible for the attempt to kill him and the August 17 Nazran bombing. But the father of two of the men detained denied they had any links with the resistance.
Also on March 6, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov announced that it was Buryatsky and the three Kartoyev brothers apprehended during the March 2 operation who were responsible for the bombing on November 27 last year of the Nevsky express train that killed 28 people. Four more brothers from the Kartoyev family were killed during the March 2 fighting.
Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov for his part told a Chechen journalist on March 6 that Buryatsky was an agent of Western intelligence services and had "nothing to do with Islam." Kadyrov claimed that "he was a psychologist, and his mission was to influence a certain category of young people not only in the North Caucasus, but throughout Russia.... His objective was to discredit, to blacken Islam while himself posing as a Muslim."