July 23, 2011 / 5:58 PM / 8 years ago

Caucasus Islamists claim Russian colonel's murder - website

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Islamists based in the North Caucasus claimed responsibility for the Moscow killing of a former Russian colonel convicted of murdering a Chechen girl, the Kavkaz Centre website said Saturday.

The insurgency-affiliated website, www.kavkazcenter.com, cited sources in Chechnya as saying the Riyadus-Salikhiyn battalion carried out the June 10 attack, as the Russian capital increasingly becomes a battleground for the insurgents.

It did not provide details on its sources, but said it was waiting to receive a video recording on the matter.

Yuri Budanov was stripped of his rank as a colonel in the Russian army and convicted in 2003 of strangling 18-year-old Elza Kungayeva during a tour of duty in Chechnya.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but won early release in 2009 and lived freely until he was shot dead by an unidentified assailant.

The colonel had become a symbol of rights abuses by federal forces in Chechnya, part of Russia’s restive, mostly Muslim North Caucasus. He has also become a hero among many ethnic Russian ultranationalists.

The Riyadus-Salikhiyn battalion has taken responsibility for a number of major attacks in the past decade, including the 2004 Beslan school massacre where more than 320 people died, and a deadly September, 2010 market bombing in Vladikavkaz.

Reporting by Alfred Kueppers; editing by Myra MacDonald

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