Shamil Basaev resigned yesterday from his post as first deputy prime minister of Chechnya. Basaev became a national hero in Chechnya — and Russia’s most wanted man — when he led a bloody hostage-taking raid on the south Russian town of Budennovsk in June 1995. He finished second, with 30 percent of the vote, in January’s presidential election, and was one of the first ministers Maskhadov appointed to his government. Basaev has so far given no reason for his departure from office, but his resignation seems to signal deepening disagreements between the former resistance fighters.
Russian media reported yesterday that another famous Chechen field commander, Abu Movsaev, had resigned as head of the state security service. Movsaev, who served with Basaev during the war and participated in the Budennovsk raid, denied the report in a TV interview but said that he "would wait a few days before resigning." (ORT, July 10)
Both Basaev and Movsaev belong to the radical camp of Chechen politicians. They support an uncompromising approach to Russia (it was Basaev who first demanded that Russia pay compensation for war damage) and tough domestic policies. In conversations with the Monitor, Basaev’s supporters have repeatedly stated that only he could restore order in the republic and that Maskhadov was "too soft" to do it. Basaev’s departure may be linked to the present wave of kidnappings: he has denounced the "new business" of kidnapping and has called the kidnappers of well-known Russian TV journalist Yelena Masyuk his "blood enemies." Masyuk and her TV crew have been held captive in Chechnya since May 10. (ORT, July 10)
Chernomyrdin Issues Income Declaration.