The blogs have been pretty quick to react to the killing of Chechnya’s rebel President, Aslan Maskhadov, by Russian troops earlier today (see here for my report of the news as it broke). Here’s a roundup of some of the more interesting posts.
Scraps of Moscow saw his evening viewing interrupted, and wonders who Putin can negotiate with now:
ORT (Channel 1) interrupted the special holiday presentation of the movie "Titanic" for a 9pm news brief to announce that Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov was "destroyed" today by Russian forces in Tolstoy-yurt. I am sure that appetites at more than one 8th of March feast were spoiled by the extensive footage of Maskhadov’s body (turns out that "destroyed" is a polite way of saying "killed" – his body was very much intact, although pretty beaten up), in a pool of blood, from every conceivable angle.
It is amazing to me that such an outpouring of pride and chest-thumping can accompany the capture of a guy who has been wanted and has been successfully evading Russian forces within a small piece of Russia’s own territory (Chechnya) for years. It is also unfortunate news for anyone who hopes for a negotiated settlement in Chechnya – in spite of his possible ties to international terrorists, inconsistent statements, and questionable control over the Chechen forces, Maskhadov was really the only person with whom sitting down for negotiations might have been conceivable. You can bet they won’t be negotiating with Basayev…
Shandor_Rando at Diderot’s Lounge disagrees – he thinks this presents an opportunity for Putin to negotiate, in much the same way as Ariel Sharon could negotiate with Palestine after Yasser Arafat’s death:
[The] death of Maskhadov may bring a closure. Previously, Putin claimed that
he will not negotiate with terrorists, singuling Maskhadov in
particular. Perhaps, Maskhadov’s death will allow Putin leaway in badly
needed negotiations with regional warlords in the outskirts of Dagestan
and Chechnya itself.
Rusty Shackleford, of the Jawa Report is firm in his conclusion that Maskhadov was behind the Nord-Ost Theatre attack, and that the mainstream media (MSM) is wrong to portay him as a moderate. He has plenty of pictures too, for those of you who need proof as Maskhadov’s deadness:
The press reports that Maskhadov was simply a leader of a
nationalist movement in Chechnya are mistaken. Maskhadov is accused of
planning the hostage crisis at the Nord-Ost theater in Moscow. 129
hostages later died, mostly as the result of a botched rescue operation.
the MSM likes to portray Maskhadov as a moderate, contrasting him to
the al Qaeda linked Basayev, but Maskhadov’s nationalism was tied
closely to his Muslim identity. His army is composed of jihadis drawn
from around the world to repel the infidel invaders (Russia). Clearly,
Maskhadov was a jihadi who saw his mission to end the 400 year old
Russian control of Chechnya as a religious imperetive.
Over at Drivel from the Far Side, Jacob is remembering how the Chechen rebels have been decapitated before:
I remember awhile ago when the Russians were pushing hard into Grozny
and the senior Chechen leadership died fleeing the capital when they
stumbled into a minefield. It’s impressive how they regroup down there
and keep going. Or maybe it’s just a testament to how far the Russian
Army has fallen.
John Robb thinks that Chechens will respond positively (sort of) under pressure:
What is clear is that this will fragment the movement and make it more
likely to innovate with new methods. Maskhadov advocated a classic
If it is true – and it almost certainly is – it´s sad in many ways.
After all, he represented the moderate independence fighters in
Chechnya. And if the moderates will be destroyed, there will be left
just the warlords like Shamil Basayev who use all means possible to win
the war, and the corrupted and violent pet Chechens of the Russians.
And it´s hard to believe that there could be any compromise then.
The Dusty Attic speculates on how Russian forces got to Maskhadov so quickly after arresting a number of his associates nearby:
Being so early in
the news cycle, a clearer picture of the surrounding events will be
gathered, but my initial, top of my head take from the initial reports
is that the Russians are very sucessful at soliciting accurate,
truthful information from their prisoners in a short amount of time.
<>I wonder how they do it?< /sarcasm >
Ingrid Margo, journalist at large, rants with admirable stamina and traces the blame for this (and much more besides) on a certain US President:
Maskhadov was murdered in Chechnya today another in a long line of
murders, coming in quick succession now. Only last week we saw a former
Ukrainian minister murdered in Kiev. This is the most dangerous time
for human kind.
Bush has opened this Pandoras Box, his conscience, is in a state of impotence.
The histologian thinks about who will succeed Maskhadov:
Bad news for any hope of political settlement as this leaves Basayev as
the heir apparent to the leadership of the Chechen resistance.
Murdoc came online to remind us how bad the Russian military is:
As I’ve said before, the Russians have no fear of actively fighting
terrorists/insurgents/minutemen, but they have problems doing so
The view from Outside the Beltway is:
I’m sure they’re all choked up. Maskhadov was an interesting figure, who missed the opportunity to do more to curtail the terrorist impulses of those on his side.
OK, that’s it for now. Certainly enough to give you a sample of opinion.