Anzor Maskhadov: “They will Keep Their Silence and Do Nothing!”
Five years after the assasination of Aslan Maskhadov, the President of Chechen Republic Ichkeria, his family stil has hope that his body will be returned them. But Russian authorities have refused to do it with referring to their so-called law rules on combating with terrorism. The son of Aslan Maskhadov gave answers to Irina Lagunina, a correspondent of RFE/RL’s Russian service.
Irina Lagunina: “Unlike Russian authorities, Aslan Maskhadov treated his enemies with dignity. During the 1994-1996 war, he, being the chief of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria Armed Forces, specially stopped hostility to let Russian troops to collect and bury their soldiers’ corpses which were eaten by stray dogs in the streets of Grozny. Also many cases are known when Maskhadov without any conditions set free alive and unharmed Russian prisoners of war, and hundreds of Russian mothers thank him for it now“. This is an extract from appeal of Aslan Maskhadov’s family to the world religious leaders. A little more than five years passed after the assassination of the former Chechen president on March 8, 2005. We will converse today about this document with Aslan Maskhadov’s son Anzor. Anzor, how did he learn that your father was killed?
Anzor Maskhadov: That day we were invited to a friend, we with the family came to be on the visit to him. In his flat I received a telephone call from Turkey, from my acquaintance, and he asked me: “Is it truth, that happened at home?”. That is in our republic. I immediately felt that something is wrong, thought about father. And he accentuated after it, that it is about father. I said: “I don’t know, but I feel that something happened”. Indeed I felt, that hundred-per-cent something happened with him. I said to my family: “pack up your things, we are coming back home”. After it I also said to my friend, that we should go, we have businesses. Although we have no businesses. We came home. I didn’t want my nearest, family to show their emotions, feelings in that moment when they will see on television. We came home. At home, with family, we watched news, one was able to see yet, that this happened.
Irina Lagunina: Did Russian authorities or federal forces in Chechnya inform you officially about it?
Anzor Maskhadov: They informed immediately, that there was a short battle in Tolstoy-Yurt and as a result of this battle Aslan Maskhadov was killed. They said in other words, that the terrorist leader Aslan Maskhadov was annihilated. After it Patrushev (FSB chief) reported to Putin, that the operation was conducted, as they said, the terrorist leader Aslan Maskhadov was annihilated.
Irina Lagunina: What happened after it in the first days? Did somebody from federal forces call to your family? Or did the family appeal to somebody from federal forces or some other representatives of the authority in Chechnya?
Anzor Maskhadov: Nobody appealed to us either from Moscow or from Grozny. And I would not hear them, simply honor and dignity would not allowed to converse with them. I took the father’s view, and nowadays too. I understood immediately what to do and how to act in this situation. That is we knew that they will not give us the body. We know our enemy well, I fought during the first war myself, and I know, to what acts they resorted, and resort today. It is just a cruelty. I told to my family that they should be ready to that they will not give him us. We wrote, appealed with a complaint to Strasbourg court, so called court on human rights. And up to today, people work over this complaint, consider it, but this process has been delayed.
Irina Lagunina: The minimum period of case consideration in Strasbourg court, as practice shows, is approximately five years. Since the moment of your father assassination a little more than five years passed. But you, nevertheless, appealed to the Russian authorities, and, as far as I know, “Soldiers’ Mothers” passed the petition in the name of you. Was this the only your attempt?
Anzor Maskhadov: Yes, it can be called the only attempt. Because I didn’t want to appeal directly to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. He is the killer of my father and, as I said, the honor and the dignity didn’t allow me to appeal, I will not come to bow. We appealed through “Soldiers’ Mothers” which we respect very much. There was an appeal to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia from our family, because he is the man of religion, the man of truth. We wanted through him to appeal to the authorities, the government, but no answer, no reaction was. And just recently, I wanted to meet this person even in 2005, very respected, he lives in Georgia – he is the patriarch of Georgia. I have heard a lot about him, people told, and I wanted to meet him just that time. But it happened so that I met him after five years after my father’s assassination. He said such words, that it is against religion, such an act as not returning the body. It is indeed such, all religions of this world say that a body must be buried.
Irina Lagunina: You also appealed to the participants of the summit of the world religious leaders, it was held in Baku on April 26-27. I will cite a little paragraph from this appeal: “The leadership of Russian Federation, not being satisfied by assassination, continues to commit this outrage, adding thereby to the pain of our loss another pain. Doing this, Russian authorities refer to the accepted by State Duma law about terrorism, which contradicts the Constitution of the Russian Federation itself, and, moreover, don’t fit into the frames of universal ethics and morality, insults the traditions of the Chechen people and is inexplicable from any religion’s point of view”. Have the leaders of world confessions heard you?
Anzor Maskhadov: Heard, probably, but I’m not sure that they will do anything. They are dependent from the policy committed by they own states. That is they will keep silence and do nothing. But it is their right, to say or not to say. But the religion says that a body must be buried. Why are they afraid to say this? It is no difference for me, is one a Muslim, a Christian or somebody else, but the religion says this. If one is indeed so religious and respected person, that what he should be afraid of?
Irina Lagunina: Anzor, let us talk a little about your family, so long as such a possibility occurred. In 2004, a little before your father assassination, Kadirov’s forces, obviously with the connivance, and maybe with the help of the federal forces, took as hostages factually all your nearest relatives. And there was a report by “Memorial” (Russian human rights organization), I will cite some data. For example, on January 3, 2004, the sister of Aslan Maskhadov, Bucha Abdulkadyrova was kidnapped. What happened with her after?
Anzor Maskhadov: Yes, indeed, they are direct relatives, brothers, sisters, there were little children. They were beaten, starved, they were kept on Khankala (Russian military base in Chechnya) the first time when they were taken as hostages. They wanted to press my father – there was just this reason. Some of these relatives are alive, some are not. You asked about my aunt, she is a courageous person, very courageous, she was beaten there very much, they wanted to make her kneel. And were surprised that cannot make woman kneel, beat her with the butts, but she was standing. She is alive today. Although just recently the elder brother of my father, my uncle, died. He also was kept in Khankala that time.
Irina Lagunina: It was Lecha Maskhadov?
Anzor Maskhadov: Yes.
Irina Lagunina: How you revere your father’s memory now, when the body was not given to you, when you have not possibility to do the grave, to come and worship his memory there?
Anzor Maskhadov: We are proud, like other Chechens, that I had just such father, that he didn’t leave such a place that I would inclined my head before somebody because of shame. He passed his way with dignity. He, being even a military man, remained a human. And even people around radicalized, became cruel during this war, as well Russians, as well Chechens, he remained a Chechen. And how you heard, probably, about Chechen code Noxchalla, it is said much about it there, just honor, dignity. He adhered to all human factors. Everybody remembers, how he passed soldiers, officers to their mothers, how he tried to stop this war, and prevent to war before the conflict. And he was killed at the time when he stopped the war unilaterally.
Today he is blamed in the collaboration with Basayev. I say so: there were such cases, everyone knows it, that Shamil Basayev took responsibility for some actions or planned actions, but my father never committed or planned such actions against civilians. There was the collaboration with Basayev, that he urged Shamil to reject commitment of such actions, and he achieved it. Whatever the Kremlin says today, he achieved that he take the word form Shamil, that he will not commit such actions. And after November 2004, such actions were not committed by Shamil Basayev, as I remember, as we all know.
Irina Lagunina: We conversed with the son of Aslan Maskhadov, Anzor.
“The earthly way of the President of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria Aslan Maskhadov is over and it is impossible to help him yet, but those who are alive – we, his near relatives – appeal to you. We persuasively ask you to use all your authority for demanding from Russian leadership to stop the barbarity and to return to us the body of our head of family for burial according the Chechen laws and the religion demands,” – writes Maskhadov’s family to the leaders of world confessions.
Irina Lagunina – RFE/RL’s Russian service (Radio Svoboda)
*The interview was translated from Russian language into English by Aminat for Waynakh Online. The original radio interview’s deciphered version was published at Radio Svoboda in Here: (Part 1. – Part 2.)