Yesterday a bomb exploded in Djohar, the Chechen capital, in an apparent attempt on the life of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, the fifth such attempt since he became president. A bomb, apparently a radio-controlled device, went off as Maskhadov’s motorcade passed by. Maskhadov was not hurt, but one bystander was killed. Immediately after the blast, Maskhadov appeared on television and accused “influential forces in Moscow” of being behind the incident. He said that their goal was to cancel Russia’s parliamentary vote, set for the end of this year, and bring about the imposition of a state of emergency. The Chechen president said the attempt on his life was connected to the Vladikavkaz bombing. Other Chechen officials say the blast may have been an attempt to prevent Maskhadov’s planned meeting with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin also said the two blasts were connected, but that they were connected with Chechnya’s internal political conflict. On March 20, a day before the attempt on Maskhadov, six persons were arrested in Djohar on suspicion of having kidnapped General Gennady Shpigun (NTV, March 21). According to some reports, Shpigun is being held in an area of western Chechnya, which is a stronghold of both anti-Maskhadov opposition and Wahabbi Muslim activism.
LATVIA’S INTERNAL SECURITY CHIEF REGRETS BLUNDER.