One of the most visible moderates in Aslan Maskhadov’s separatist government has resigned, and at least one veteran observer of the war in Chechnya is interpreting this as a victory for the extremists among the rebels. Salambek Maigov released a statement on August 14 announcing that he was resigning as Maskhadov’s representative in Moscow. Compared with most such documents, his statement was unusually candid: In addition to a predictable expression of regret over the Putin administration’s unwillingness to negotiate, Maigov said that Maskhadov was not satisfied with his work.
Anna Politkovskaya of Novaya gazeta wrote on August 18 that, according to her newspaper’s sources, “in circles close to Maskhadov…the real cause of the disagreement is of capital importance…Maskhadov has turned out to be extremely displeased with the most recent statements of Maigov in which the latter condemned terrorist suicide bombings–including the latest of these at the Mozdok hospital….the fatalities from which included people who were undergoing intensive medical care and who therefore were unable to defend themselves. To any normal person it is obvious that such barbarism is as despicable as the federal air force’s bombardments of the hospitals of Chechnya at the beginning of the war. However Maskhadov’s view has turned out to be quite the opposite–just the same as Basaev’s. And this means a great deal, indeed too much. Not for Maigov, of course, but for our understanding of the situation. What are these people now, the forces of the Chechen resistance, and what is Maskhadov…does he represent good or evil for his nation? Who is on top now in his inner circle?”
In Politkovskaya’s view, Basaev is now “having more and more success in twisting Maskhadov around his little finger, in telling him what he needs to do for the sake of his own survival. And the more effectively Basaev controls Maskhadov, the fewer normal people with common sense will remain in Maskhadov’s circle. If we look still further ahead, we can see the very idea of Ichkeria [that is, an independent Chechnya] getting derailed…Thus it turns out that on the eve of the elections, Basaev himself is finishing off Ichkeria.”
In his August 14 resignation statement, Maigov said that “Maskhadov told me…that the results for which he had hoped from my appointment had not been met. From the president’s message it is obvious that he had formed evaluation of my work as his representative under the influence of various people, including cabinet minister Umar Khambiev.”