He was credited by many with the Chechen victory in the First Chechen War, which allowed for the establishment of the de facto independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Maskhadov became President of Ichkeria of the nation in January of 1997 with heavy backup from Moscow. Following the start of the Second Chechen War, he returned to leading the guerrilla warfare movement against the Russian army. He was reportedly killed in a village in southern Chechnya in March 2005.
In 1951, Aslan Aliyevich Maskhadov was born in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, in the small village of Shakai. This was during the exile of the Chechen people, under Joseph Stalin's orders. In 1957, his family was allowed to return to Chechnya.
He joined the Red Army, training in the neighboring Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, and graduating from the Tbilisi Artillery School in 1972. He graduated from Saint Petersburg's Military Academy in 1981, and he was posted to Hungary with a self-propelled artillery regiment. He served from 1990 as the local commander of Soviet rocket forces and artillery in Vilnius, capital of the Lithuanian SSR. He retired from the Russian Army in 1992 with the rank of a colonel and returned to his native land.
First Chechen War and triumph
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Maskhadov became the Chief of Staff for the embryonic Chechen army under the command of former Soviet general Dzhokhar Dudayev. He was the senior military figure on the Chechen side during the First Chechen War (1994-1996) and was widely seen as being instrumental to the Chechen victory over the Russian forces. He led the Chechen delegation in peace talks with Russia which led to a truce ending the war.
On October 17, 1996, he was appointed provisional prime minister of Chechnya following the assassination of Dudayev by Russian forces. With backing from Moscow, where he was seen as the least radical candidate, he stood for President in the elections of January 1997, running against Shamil Basayev, a field commander with a popular following. Mashkadov won a large majority and was congratulated by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who pledged to work towards rebuilding relations with Chechnya (but still refused to recognise its independent status). Maskhadov then attained the apex of his political career when he signed a peace treaty with Yeltsin at the Kremlin on May 12, 1997.
After this crowning achievement, Maskhadov's political fortunes began to wane. His political standing within Chechnya became increasingly insecure as he lost control to Basayev and other warlords. The years of Chechen independence were notorious for kidnappings, terrorism and organized crime. Maskhadov was the target of several assassination attempts possibly by Basayev and his allies. Maskhadov introduced Sharia in August 1997, leading to several public executions. Although the Sharia demands that persons executed to be buried immediately, President Maskhadov did issue a decree that the bodies of those executed should be put on public display with a description of the crime for which they were executed; the executions were reportedly filmed by the authorities.http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460251997?open&of=ENG-373http://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/press-releases/1997/sep/2089/ Mashkhadov also attempted with only limited success to curb the growth of Wahhabism and other fundamentalist Muslim groups supported by Basayev, producing a split in the Chechen separatist movement between Islamic fundamentalism and secular nationalism.
Second Chechen War and decline
An attempt by Basayev's forces to spread war to the neighboring Russian Republic of Dagestan in September 1999 proved to be the final straw for Russian tolerance of an independent Chechnya, which seemed beyond the control of Maskhadov and rapidly becoming a base for Islamic fundamentalists to destabilize other parts of the Russian North Caucusus. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces back into Chechnya in October 1999. Russian triumph in the Second Chechen War propelled Putin to the Russian Presidency.
After Chechen forces' withdrawal from Grozny, Maskhadov returned to life as a guerrilla leader, living in hiding as Russia's second most wanted man after Basayev, with Russia placing a $10 million bounty on his capture. He was seen as the political leader of the separatist forces during the Second Chechen War. It is unclear what kind of a military role he played. Maskhadov advocated armed resistance to what he saw as a Russian occupation but condemned attacks on civilians, although he apparently supported the separatist assassination of pro-Russian Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov whilst condemning the Russian assassination of Chechen separatist ex-President Yandarbiyev in Qatar in 2004.
He consistently denied responsibility for the increasingly brutal terrorist acts against Russian civilians by Basayev's followers after the Second Chechen War. Maskhadov often issued denunciations of such incidents through spokesmen abroad, such as Akhmed Zakayev, presently in exile in London. While some Western observers considered these denunciations plausible, Russian officials considered them insincere and have always accused both Basayev and Maskhadov of colluding to perpetrate terrorism. Western leaders have not given much public reaction to his death, in marked contrast to the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
On March 8, 2005, Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation head Nikolay Patrushev announced that special forces attached to the FSB had "today carried out an operation in the settlement of Tolstoy-Yurt, as a result of which the international terrorist and leader of armed groups Maskhadov was killed, and his closest comrades-in-arms detained". The special operations unit had wanted to take Maskhadov alive for interrogation, but apparently killed him accidentally with a grenade thrown into a reinforced bunker where Maskhadov was hiding. Maskhadov had apparently ordered his bodyguards to leave before engaging the Russian special forces on his own.
A body was shown on Russian television that looked very much like Maskhadov. Akhmed Zakayev, one of his closest allies who acted as his spokesman and foreign minister, told a Russian radio station that it was probable that Maskhadov had indeed been killed. He indicated later that a new Chechen leader could be chosen within days.
Although the circumstances of Maskhadov's death remain unclear, Russian media has reported that Maskhadov's own bodyguards had accidentally killed him in the panic of the fire fight. Another version has Maskhadov killed by forces loyal to Chechnya's Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov had vowed to avenge the assassination of his father, Akhmad Kadyrov, but did not publicly take credit for Maskhadov's death for fear of continuing the vendetta cycle.
Four Chechens: Vakhit Murdashev, Viskhan Hadzhimuradov, Skanarbek Yusupov and Ilias Iriskhanov were captured by the special operation. Since October 10 2005 their case is in the High Court of Chechen republic. According to their evidence http://old.lenta.ru/news/2005/10/20/maskhadov/ Maskhadov was caught during preparation of a peace settlement with Russian Federal authorities but this has been disputed by the latter ones. Maskhadov's willingness to negotiate with hostage-takers during Beslan school hostage crisis has been referred to in independent Russian media as one of the possible reasons for shooting started by Russian security forces on the third day of the crisis http://www.ej.ru/dayTheme/entry/2855/ http://grani.ru/opinion/piontkovsky/m.94668.html.
Shortly following Maskhadov's death, the Chechen rebel council announced that Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev had assumed the leadership, a move that was quickly endorsed by Shamil Basayev.
On April 24, 2006, the General Procurator's Office of Russia officially refused to turn the remains of Aslan Maskhadov over to his relatives for burial. The refusal was described as legal:
Maskhadov A.A., in connection with terrorism, was criminally responsible for many separate serious crimes on the territory of the Russian Federation. Taking this into account, it was decided to suppress Maskhadov's activities and Maskhadov was being pursued for our protection. The burial of such persons is carried out in accordance with the rules concerning the burial of those whose death was a result of the suppression of their terrorist actions, affirmed by the government of the Russian Federation on 20 March, 2003, in Order No. 164. In this case, the body is not handed over for burial, and the location of the burial is not communicated.
Chechnya First Chechen War Second Chechen War
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/