Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 14

On April 30, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Anatoly Kvashnin, confidently asserted that Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev had been killed, though, he was required to add, “the body of Basaev has for the time being not been found” (Strana.ru, April 30). This statement was, on the same day, denied by General Moltenskoi, head of the Combined Group of Federal Forces in Chechnya, and by General Sergei Babkin, head of the FSB in Chechnya, who maintained that his agency had “no information to suggest the liquidation of field commander Shamil Basaev.” For his part, a spokesman for separatist president Maskhadov dismissed the chief-of-staff’s statement as merely “drunken ravings by Kvashnin” (Agence France Presse, April 30.)

On May 3, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that separatist president Aslan Maskhadov had “set up a military council” as a “kind of balance to a similar body led by another prominent warlord, Shamil Basaev. Neither Basaev’s men, nor followers of the recently killed Khattab,” Interfax underscored, “were present.” On May 8, however, the official Maskhadov website Chechenpress.com wrote that, three days earlier, on May 5, “a special meeting of Chechen forces was held in one of the mountainous districts of Chechnya,” which had been presided over by Maskhadov, with Basaev present and playing a major role. “Basaev,” the account said, “began his speech with words from the Koran, calling upon the participants to stand firm and not to separate.”