Ilyas Khamzatovich Akhmadov
Ilyas Akhmadov was born on December 19, 1960 in Kazakhstan, where most of the Chechen nation – including his family – was exiled by Stalin’s government in 1944. The Akhmadovs returned to Shatoy, Chechnya in 1962.
From 1978 to 1981 Ilyas Akhmadov studied in the Polytechnic University of Volgograd. After graduation, he served for four years as a Sergeant Major in the Soviet Army’s Strategic Missile Forces. He left the army in 1985 as a Third Lieutenant, and in 1991 he graduated with distinction in political science from the Rostov University. Returning to Chechnya, which had declared independence from USSR in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he took a job in the political department of the Chechen Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In August 1994 Akhmadov was wounded during the fighting with forces of Ruslan Labazanov in Argun.
The first Russian-Chechen war broke out in 1994 when Russian forces entered Chechnya to colonize the country. Akhmadov fought against the Russians, serving first as volunteer fighter and then as the public affairs officer to the Chechen army headquarters’ chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov. In 1996, the Chechens defeated the poorly organised Russian army. When the war ended he retired to private life.
On July 29, 1999, a month before the beginning of the second Russian-Chechen war, President of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Aslan Maskhadov appointed Ilyas Akhmadov as Foreign Minister.
Akhmadov himself left Chechnya traveled to the UN, OSCE, PACE, European Parliament, UNHCR, U.S. Congress and Executive branch, and international NGOs to call for observance of human rights during the conflict.
In January 2000, Akhmadov visited the United States, where he met with officials of the State Department. He embarked on a tour of Western capitals, returning twice to the United States in 2000 and again in 2001.
In 2002 Akhmadov claimed asylum in the United States but his initial bid was turned down after opposition from the United States Department of Homeland Security. However, he gained support from members of the United States Congress and peace campaigners, who saw him as a moderate. Indeed, Akhmadov has repeatedly criticised suicide bombings and hostage-takings by Chechen extremists and has campaigned for peace talks to end the war.
Ilyas Akhmadov drew up the Chechen Peace Plan at the request of President Maskhadov in February 2003.
In April 2004 an Immigration Judge in Boston issued an order granting Akhmadov asylum in the United States. That ruling became effective in August 2004 following the U.S. Government’s abrupt withdrawal of its notice of appeal of the Immigration Judge’s decision.