Chechen leader killed by Russian Special Forces

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Aslan Maskhadov, the leader of the separatist movement in Chechnya, is reported to have been killed by Russian special forces.

FSB head Nikolay Patrushev announced that special forces attached to the FSB (the successor to the KGB) 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". 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

Russia had considered the Chechen separatists terrorists, and accredited the Beslan school hostage crisis, along with other acts to the militants. Maskhadov has condemned any crime against civilians.

Aslan Alivitch Maskhadov, born 21 September, 1951, was the leader of the separatist movement in the Russian republic of Chechnya. He was credited by many with the Chechen victory in the First Chechen War, which secured temporary de facto independence for Chechnya. In January 1997, Maskhadov was elected President of Chechnya on a platform including demands for independence from Moscow. Following the start of the Second Chechen War in 1999, he returned to leading the guerrilla movement against the Russian army.