Maskhadov Enunciates A Harder Line

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 31

One of Russia’s most well-connected, pro-establishment business leaders urged the Putin administration to open informal talks with Aslan Maskhadov, president of Chechnya’s underground separatist government, in spite of Maskhadov’s claim of responsibility for the recent guerrilla raid on Ingushetia. Arkady Volsky told Ekho Moskvy radio that it would be helpful for Kremlin representatives “to meet with Maskhadov unofficially and hear what he wants.” Maskhadov has now openly stated via the separatist Kavkazcenter and Chechenpress websites that he approved the Ingushetia operation and that further operations outside Chechnya are also possible. “We have decided, through our attacks, to push out the enemy,” he said. “And if the enemy decides not to leave, than we will carry over the war to its territory.”

Aleksei Malashenko, a specialist on Islam and the North Caucasus for the Moscow Carnegie Center, commented in an interview published by Nezavisimaya gazeta on August 3: “Maskhadov simply had no other way out. He realized that there are not going to be any negotiations—not even about surrender conditions for himself as Akhmad Kadyrov suggested when he promised to put in a good word to Putin on Maskhadov’s behalf. Now that Maskhadov has come to understand that he is not going to accomplish anything by peaceful political methods, he is beginning to associate himself with the armed resistance. I think that this might lead to a sharpening of the struggle for power between Basaev and Maskhadov—though on the other hand, perhaps to a close union instead, because as the elections approach they both have an interest in proving that it’s not the federals who are running things in Chechnya, that the war is continuing and that ‘we have killed Kadyrov and we shall kill the new president.'”