A week after the Kadyrov assassination, terrorist warlord Shamil Basaev claimed responsibility for it. During the night of May 16-17, the extremist rebel website Kavkaz-center published what it said was an e-mail from Basaev declaring that his forces had carried out a death sentence issued by a Sharia court. It was unclear what the composition of that court might have been-whether it consisted of learned Islamic scholars as required by the Sharia tradition, or perhaps only of Basaev’s own gunmen.
Basaev also made a vague threat against Russia’s prime minister – so vague that it was not clear whether he had in mind the incumbent Mikhail Fradkov, a possible successor, or both. “We are interested in who will be appointed as the prime minister of Russia – Katya or Masha,” he said, “if, through the kindness of Allah, we successfully conduct special operation Moska-2.”
The reference to an “operation Moska-2,” previously unheard of, was as cryptic as Basaev’s reference in the same e-mail to another “special operation,” under which the assassination of Kadyrov was supposedly carried out. Most likely he used these mysterious terms simply to create a psychological effect.
More chilling, however, was the apparent reference to Putin’s teenage daughters Katya and Masha – evidently a contemptuous hint that one of them would be named prime minister, much as Akhmad Kadyrov’s son Ramzan was appointed last week as deputy premier of Chechnya. As the Gazeta.ru website observed on May 17, this is the first time that Basaev has personally threatened Putin or his family. The terrorist warlord’s intent, as so often before, is clearly to inflame fanaticism and hatred on both sides and thus to preclude even the possibility of peace negotiations.