LONDON — Channel Four News has enraged the Russian government by airing an interview with Shamil Basayev, a Chechen guerrilla commander who masterminded the deadly Moscow theater and Beslan school mass kidnappings.
Through the Russian Embassy in London, officials pleaded with the broadcaster not to air the interview, but Channel Four stuck to its guns.
The Russian Foreign Ministry responded Thursday with a damning indictment, accusing the broadcaster of “supporting terrorists,” but Channel Four officials rejected the charge that their decision to give Basayev airtime constituted granting his cause publicity.
“It is simply not the case that the running of such material can be equated with condoning it,” they said in a statement.
Basayev has been the Kremlin’s most wanted man for a decade and has a $10 million bounty on his head. Channel Four submitted questions through an intermediary shortly after the Beslan siege and answers were returned four months later on CD.
Basayev promised more terrorist strikes: “We are planning these operations, and we will conduct them, if only to show the world again and again the true face of the Russian regime.”