Maskhadov, Aslan Aliyevich

Maskhadov, Aslan Aliyevich
   Guerilla leader and politician. Born in exile, Alsan Maskhadov returned from Kazakhstan to his ancestral homeland of Chechnya as a young boy. He served in the Soviet army in Georgia, Hungary, and Lithuania, winning several accommodations before retiring in 1992. During the first Chechen War, Maskhadov organized Chechen defenses against federal troops, including operations in the capital, Grozny. In 1996, he ended the conflict during negotiations with General Aleksandr Lebed through the Khasav-Yurt Accord.
   On 17 October 1996, he was appointed prime minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya, though he retained his position as minister of defense. He then ran successfully for the presidency, handily beating his main rival, Shamil Basayev. He served as president of the breakaway republic from 1997 until his death on 8 March 2005. During that period, Maskhadov signed a formal peace treaty with Boris Yeltsin, attempted to rebuild the shattered local economy, and worked to stanch the growing tide of Wahhabism in his country. Despite his allegiance to the nationalist cause, he eventually capitulated to the Islamists and instituted sharia (Islamic law) in the late 1990s.
   Following Ibn al-Khattab and Shamil Basayev’s armed incursion into neighboring Dagestan, Maskhadov put his country on a war footing against the imminent Russian invasion, which came in late 1999. Pushed out of Grozny, he conducted a long-running guerilla campaign against federal troops and the pro-Russian government of Chechnya, led by Akhmad Kadyrov. Accusing Maskhadov of acts of international terrorism, the Kremlin ultimately put a $10 million bounty on his head. In 2005, he effectively ordered an end to guerilla operations. One month later, it was reported that he died when Russian Special Forces threw a grenade into his bunker in Tolstoy-Yurt, Chechnya; however, the actual cause of his death remains a mystery.
   See also Dudayev, Jokhar.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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