The commander of Russian forces in the northern Caucasus, Gennady Troshev, called for "the most painful death penalty" to be applied to Chechen separatist fighters in an interview published Monday in the daily Izvestiya.
Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky, responding in comments quoted by the Interfax news agency, criticised the general who said he would "bring everyone out onto a public square and string up the bandits for all to see."
"Public and summary executions are out of the question," Yastrzhembsky said, stressing the Russian operations in the breakaway republic "cannot be conducted in conditions of arbitrariness and violation of Russian laws."
Chechen fighters who do not surrender should be eliminated, "but those who are captured should be tried in a court of law," he said.
Troshev last week offered a million-dollar reward for the capture of rebel Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov and the two main Chechen warlords, Shamil Basayev and Khattab.
The death penalty is still in force in Russia, though a moratorium has been applied since 1996 following Russia's admission to the Council of Europe.
Last month Justice Minister Yury Chaika called for the moratorium to be suspended in the case of terrorist actions -- MOSCOW (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)