About 20 percent of the Kadyrov administration’s gunmen are secretly loyal to the secessionist government of President Aslan Maskhadov, a key Maskhadov representative claimed during a visit to Washington last week. Salambek Maigov, Maskhadov’s emissary in Moscow, told Chechnya Weekly that former rebel guerrillas constitute the majority of Kadyrov’s ostensibly “pro-Moscow” militia. Many of those not now in contact with the rebels, he insisted, “would fight for us if we were to attack Grozny again,” as in 1996.
Maigov also disavowed a tape made public on June 13 by Agence France-Presse. Maskhadov purportedly declared one the tape that he and terrorist warlord Shamil Basaev “are united as never before” and had recently met face to face. The tape was simply a “phony,” said Maigov. Asked why Maskhadov’s forces have not arrested Basaev, he said that “we can’t do that because the guerrillas would not understand…our priority is to fight the Russians.” According to Maigov, Maskhadov’s appointment of Basaev as prime minister (from which post Basaev has since been removed) was an unsuccessful attempt to moderate the latter’s extremist policies.
Maigov provided a detailed briefing on the situation in Chechnya to a gathering of government and non-government analysts hosted by the Brookings Institution. This meeting, like his meetings with U.S. government officials, was off the record. In a clear sign of disagreement between government agencies, the Defense Department hosted Maigov for a lengthy meeting inside the Pentagon, while the State Department agreed only to a brief meeting at a “neutral,” non-government site.