Ramzan Kadyrov, Kremlin-backed leader of Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, says regional security forces and police have killed six armed militants led by Aslan Byutukayev in a special operation.
Kadyrov said on January 20 that the "successfully executed operation finished all underground factions in the Chechen Republic."
Aslan Byutukayev was a close associate of the late leader of the so-called Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz), Doku Umarov. Russian authorities have said that Umarov was killed in a special operation in September 2013.
Umarov and Byutukayev took responsibility for the bombing attack in Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in January 2011 that claimed 37 lives. In March 2011, Russian officials said Byutukayev was liquidated in a special operation, but that statement was never confirmed.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on January 20 that Russian President Vladimir Putin "congratulated him [Kadyrov] on the liquidation of Byutukayev's gang," adding that all of the officers who took part in the operation will receive state awards.
After two separatist wars in Chechnya in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Islamic militancy spilled over into Russia's other North Caucasus regions such as Daghestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria.
In 2007, as leader of Chechen separatist forces, Umarov proclaimed himself the leader of what he called the independent Islamic state of Imarat Kavkaz in Russia's North Caucasus.