Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said it had charged Doku Umarov and another militant with organising the Jan. 24 bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo airport that killed 37 and injured more than 180.
Russian media reports, meanwhile, said today that Umarov may be among 17 militants killed in a security raid in the province of Ingushetia west of Chechnya late yesterday.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised the security service for the raid, saying it "dealt a heavy blow" to the insurgents. "It's good that you struck these scoundrels in their den," Medvedev said during a meeting today with a deputy head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency.
Russian news reports said today Umarov may have been killed in a raid that involved an air strike on a militant camp in the region's forested mountains, but officials had no confirmation. Three security officers also died in the raid.
Ingushetia's leader, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, said today that some militant leaders were among those killed, but added it was too early to name them pending an investigation. Russian officials have repeatedly claimed in the past that Umarov was killed, but he has survived numerous security sweeps.
Umarov claimed responsibility for the airport bombing in a video posted last month and warned that many more such incidents will follow if Russia does not allow the Caucasus to become an independent Islamic state governed by Sharia law.
Umarov has claimed an array of terrorist attacks in the past, including double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway system a year ago that killed 40 people. He is seen more as an ideological than a military figure, as many militant cells operate autonomously and shun centralised command.
Medvedev said today that the authorities had tracked down all the perpetrators of the March 29, 2010 Moscow subway bombings and killed many of them during a special operation,"a just retribution," he said.