Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 41

Meeting with the republic’s Islamic clergy, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov sought the support of the clergy in his fight against rogue field commanders. Saying there should be no armed units in Chechnya other than the state agencies formed on the basis of the Constitution, Maskhadov accused "certain individuals" of trying to create their own armies and thereby doing "enormous harm" to the republic. The clergy passed a resolution approving the president’s decision to build an Islamic state and condemned the organizers of "meetings and assemblies undermining the stability of the state." (NTV, February 28)

Maskhadov first tried to bring rogue field commanders to heel when, last year, he issued a decree ordering the disbanding of all armed detachments that had not become part of the Chechen armed forces. This decree has not been implemented. Last month, a new attempt was made to rein in the mavericks: On February 25, a law came into effect that banned unauthorized carrying of automatic weapons. (See the Monitor, February 26)

Maskhadov’s main target is field commander Salman Raduev, son-in-law of the late Djohar Dudaev who leads the "Army of General Dudaev." Raduev is not simply a harsh critic of Maskhadov. He regularly issues a stream of sensational statements that undermine Grozny’s image. (He claimed, for example, responsibility for the recent assassination attempt against Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze.) The fact that Maskhadov succeeded in getting the clergy to support his decree banning unsanctioned meetings, demonstrations and strikes is evidence of this. Virtually all such actions are organized by Raduev’s supporters.

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