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Chechen rebels claim Moscow power outages

Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev said on Friday that his rebels had attacked an electricity substation, triggering Wednesday’s major power outage in Moscow, the rebel Web site www.kavkazcenter.com said.
Policemen close one of Moscow's central
Policemen close one of Moscow's central underground stations, after a massive power outage caused chaos in the Russian capital, on Wednesday.  Yuri Kadobnov / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev said on Friday that his rebels had attacked an electricity substation, triggering Wednesday’s major power outage in Moscow, the rebel Web site said.

“The result of our special operation exceeded our expectations,” Basayev was quoted as saying.

There was no way of independently checking Basayev’s claim. Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said at the time that there was no evidence terrorists were behind the fire at the Chagino substation, blaming it on a technical failure.

“Our sabotage groups dealt a big blow to one of the most crucial infrastructure systems of the Russian empire,” Basayev was quoted as saying.

Basayev, Russia’s most wanted man, has been behind a string of deadly rebel attacks and hostage-seizures over the years, including the attack on a school in Beslan, southern Russia, last September which resulted in the deaths of at least 330 hostages.

Russian authorities have offered a $10 million reward for his capture or death.

Basayev, who has kept a low profile since the death of fellow guerrilla leader Aslan Maskhadov in March, accused Russian authorities of lying about the circumstances of the attack at the Chagino substation.

The outage closed the stock exchange, crippled public transport systems and affected about 2 million people in the capital and four adjoining regions.

President Vladimir Putin blamed the state-run electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems (UES) for bad management.

UES chief executive Anatoly Chubais has since been questioned by the public prosecutors office and has been called to give an explanation for the blackout to parliament.