Son of slain Chechen rebel Maskhadov vows to continue father's work

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Wednesday, March 9, 2005 After the recent killing of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, it was not clear who would take his place. His son Anzor Maskhadov, aged 29, has quickly emerged as the most likely candidate to carry on his father's work.

Speaking at his home in Baku, Azerbaijan, Mr. Maskhadov told the Reuters news agency "I will continue my father's work. I have been in touch with his associates who are living abroad." He went on to describe the killing of his father as a "terrorist act" planned by the Russian authorities.

The Chechnya area of Russia has effectively been at war with Russia for much of the past decade: pro-independence guerrilla groups are faced by Russian regular army and special police forces. Numerous crimes against civilians and human rights infringement incidents reported in the area, involving both Russian army and rebel groups.

Late President Maskhadov was considered a moderate pro-independence Chechen leader, in contrast with Shamil Basayev. He made numerous negotiations offers, all of them left unanswered by the Kremlin. With Russian forces nominally controlling most of the Chechnya, his ability to control Chechen warlords was being questioned, though he reportedly managed to maintain lateral cease-fire in most parts of Chechnya shortly before his death.

Maskhadov was the last publicly elected leader of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ichkeria. It's first elected president, Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed in the sophisticated special forces operation of Russia's FSB in the 1990s.

Russian state run-media and MPs hailed the killing of Mr. Maskhadov - many believing his rebels were responsible for the Beslan school siege and the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2004.

Russian government took the hard-line position against Chechen rebels, denying any negotiations with the rebels after hostage takings and bomb explosions in Moscow (Nord-Ost), downed airliners, hostage taking in Beslan and other terrorist acts attributed to Chechen rebel groups. In many cases, Chechen groups claimed responsibility for these acts. Maskhadov denied any involvement in terrorist acts. According to Russian government's point of view, the war in Chechnya is merely a 'counter-terrorist operation' with an objective to 'restore the constitutional order'.

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