Friday, March 9, 2012

Aslan Maskhadov

Aslan (Khalid) Aliyevich Maskhadov (Chechen: Аслан Али кӏант Масхадан, Latin: Aslan Ali kant Masxadaŋ, Russian: Аслан Алиевич Масхадов) (September 21, 1951 – March 8, 2005) was a leader of the Chechen separatist movement and the third President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

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 was elected President of Chechnya in January 1997. Following the start of the Second Chechen War in August 1999, he returned to leading the guerrilla resistance against the Russian army. He was killed in Tolstoy-Yurt, a village in northern Chechnya, in March 2005.

Early Life
On September 21, 1951, Aslan Aliyevich Maskhadov was born in the Karagandy Province of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) of the Soviet Union, in the small village of Shakai, during the mass deportation of the Chechen people ordered in 1944 by Joseph Stalin. His family was of the Alleroi teip. In 1957, his family returned to Chechnya where they settled in Zebir-Yurt, Nadterechny District.

Maskhadov joined the Soviet Army, trained in the neighbouring Georgian SSR and graduated from the Tbilisi Artillery School in 1972. He then graduated with honours from the Leningrad Kalinin Higher Artillery in 1981. He was posted to Hungary with a self-propelled artillery regiment until 1986 and then from 1986 in the Baltic Military District. He served from 1990 as the chief of staff of Soviet missile and artillery forces in Vilnius, capital of the Lithuanian SSR. In January 1991, Maskhadov participated in the January Events, the seizure of the television tower by Soviet troops (which he regretted later[citation needed]), but didn't participate in the assault itself. During his service in the Soviet Army, he was presented with two Orders For Service to Homeland. Maskhadov retired from the Soviet Army in 1992 with the rank of a colonel and returned to his native land. He was at the head of ChRI civil defence between late 1992 and November 1993.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, in the summer of 1993, Maskhadov took part in raids on the armed opposition against the government of Dzhokhar Dudayev in the Urus-Martan, Nadterechny, and Gudermes districts. An unsuccessful anti-Dudayev mutiny in November 1993 resulted in the dismissal of Viskhan Shakhabov as chief of staff of the Chechen armed forces, Maskhadov was appointed as the acting chief of staff and, in March 1994, as the chief of staff.

On March 8, 2005, less than a month after Maskhadov announced the cease-fire, Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) 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 jihadist and leader of armed groups Maskhadov was killed, and his closest comrades-in-arms detained". He said the special operations unit had wanted to take Maskhadov alive for interrogation, but claim that they killed him accidentally with a grenade thrown into a bunker where Maskhadov was hiding.[citation needed] 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. Vladimir Putin awarded those responsible for the killings with medals. Shortly following Maskhadov's death, the Chechen rebel council announced that Abdul-Halim Sadulayev had assumed the leadership.[citation needed]

Four Chechens, Vakhit Murdashev, Viskhan Hadzhimuradov, Skanarbek Yusupov and Ilias Iriskhanov, were captured by the special operation. According to the ballistic evidence at their trial in the Supreme Court of Chechen Republic, Maskhadov was killed by a shot from a pistol of Viskhan Hadzhimuradov, his nephew and bodyguard. Hadzhimuradov testified that he does not remember whether he shot Maskhadov or not since he was stunned by an explosion but after the capture Hadzhimuradov reportedly said: "My uncle always told me to shoot him if he is wounded and his capture is immenient. He said that if he is taken prisoner, he would be mistreated like Saddam Hussein had been".

Family Life
He married at the age of 17. His wife Kusama holds a graduate degree in teaching. They had two children: a son, Anzor, who took part in military action during the First Chechen War, and a daughter, Fatima.

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