08 March, 2005

Doff your papakhas

Aslan Maskhadov is dead.

He is dead at the hands of Russian security forces, who are triumphant, hailing this as a victory in their war against the Chechen terrorists. Maskhadov was the erstwhile "president" of Chechnya (before it blew to shit) and later became one of the more prominent rebel leaders, but was always the one with a grain of sanity. The Russian government has blamed Maskhadov for a whole spate of terrorist incidents: the hostage situations in a school in Beslan and a theater in Moscow, and a string of apartment bombings that were the initial spark for the current Russian invasion of Chechnya.

Maskhadov denied responsiblity for all of these.* Meanwhile, Shamil Basayev, who actually IS a diabolical Islamist terrorist, claimed responsibility for both Beslan AND the Moscow theater hostage-takings.

According to Moscow, Basayev and Maskhadov were both allied to al-Qaeda. Which sort of makes you wonder why they were such bitter, bitter rivals, and why Maskhadov continually made public commitments to eschewing terrorism (preferring a much more conventional military resistance), and why he wasn't an Islamist, and why he continually made (rejected) peace overtures to Moscow.

So now what are we left with? A bunch of crazy jerks. Putin on one side, and Basayev on the other. The one man who actually wanted some sort of peace in Chechnya is dead.

File this away under "Not just America is run by stupid assholes".

* As I've mentioned here before, it's widely rumored that Putin himself (or, his boys in the FSB) blew up all those apartments, so he could coast to power on a vitriolic anti-terrorist campaign. This is such a mainstream viewpoint that even John McCain has publicly mouthed it.

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