Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 171

A ceremony honoring participants of the raid on Budennovsk took place in Grozny on September 13 when the 115 fighters who took part received the order of "National Hero." Relatives of seventeen fighters who died in the raid were given the order of "Honor of the Nation," Chechnya’s highest honor. Field commander Shamil Basaev asserted that the operation, conducted in June 1995 under his leadership, was undertaken with the knowledge of late Chechen president Djohar Dudaev and former chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov, Chechnya’s current president. (NTV, September 14)

Basaev’s detachment raided Budennovsk on June 14, 1995, took about 2000 people hostage, and barricaded itself in the local hospital. During the raid 130 people were killed. The fighters left the city and released the hostages when Moscow agreed to start peace talks. Dudaev said at the time that Basaev had launched the raid on his own initiative. The Chechen authorities even promised to arrest him. "This, of course, was only an empty declaration. It is still unknown whether Dudaev would have arrested Basaev or the other way around, but all the same, a formal promise was made to us," the deputy head of the Russian delegation to the Russian-Chechen peace talks, Arkady Volsky, told the Monitor at the time.

The ceremony honoring the participants of the Budennovsk raid, and Basaev’s statement about Maskhadov’s participation in the operation, put the Kremlin in a rather ambiguous position. The ceremony last weekend gives the Russian opposition new grounds for accusing the government of negotiating with terrorists.

Japan Optimistic About Relations with Russia.