Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 10

The Russian government and pro-Moscow Chechen officials, along with pro-Kremlin politicians, welcomed Maskhadov’s death. State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said that Maskhadov’s destruction should be interpreted unambiguously, RIA Novosti reported on March 9. “With this result, there will be much less evil,” Gryzlov said. “I know that [the operation] was prepared for a long time and the fact that it went off without losses among the federal forces’ servicemen speaks to that.”

“This serious political strike will disintegrate the underworld inside and outside Russia,” State Duma Security Committee member Gennady Gudkov told Itar-Tass. “Maskhadov was a link to international terrorism, and his death puts an end to this liaison. Chechnya is entering a new epoch.” Another member of the Duma Security Committee, Mikhail Grishankov, said Maskhadov’s death would “have a positive effect on the situation in Chechnya, which will improve year by year.” “The death of Maskhadov will complicate the search of North Caucasian terrorists for sources of financing, which will help to eradicate this evil,” Grishankov said.

However, Vladimir Katrenko, a State Duma Vice-Speaker and head of the Duma’s Commission for the North Caucasus, warned that Maskhadov’s death would only be a temporary setback for the rebels. “The death of the separatist leader will cause temporary confusion for the bandits in Chechnya,” he told Itar-Tass. “This is definitely a great success for the secret services, but it will not change the situation drastically. International financial institutions funding terrorism are using diverse channels, and law enforcement departments still have a lot to do to expose and neutralize them.” Likewise, Rodina (Motherland) leader Dmitry Rogozin predicted that Maskhadov’s elimination would not change the situation in Chechnya, reported on March 9. “Maskhadov, according to our information, did not have the influence of [Shamil] Basaev and was more the head of an amusing force,” he said.

Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov called Maskhadov’s killing “a deadly blow to the remaining rebels.” “With his departure, such words as ‘Chechen separatism’ will be forgotten,” Dzhabrailov told Interfax. “The ground has been kicked out from under the feet of people who were pressing for negotiations with separatists and trying to promote Maskhadov as a negotiating party. The rebels’ ideological base has also been destroyed with Maskhadov’s elimination. All those Internet sites and bandits’ foreign envoys will be left without work. They wouldn’t now say that they represent Basaev, would they? Basaev’s elimination will help a great deal in bringing peace to Chechnya and I think Basaev’s days are numbered, too.”