Alsan Maskhadov’s envoy in London has warned that the death of the rebel leader will be viewed by Chechens as a direct challenge by Moscow. Akhmed Zakayev also suggested a reaction to the killing could follow shortly. Sheikh Abdul Khalim, a relatively unknown figure in the Chechen movement, has reportedly been appointed as Maskhadov’s successor.
Zakayev said: “My opinion is that during Putin’s rule and the current regime in the Kremlin there will be no peace in Chechnya and Russia. That will only be possible if great pressure is put on Putin from Europe and the West.” Maskhadov, a former Chechen President, died in unclear circumstances during a Russian secret service operation north of the capital, Grozny.
Many viewed him as a moderate and Moscow’s best hope of finding a peaceful solution to a conflict that has raged on for more than a decade.