Aide denies Maskhadov role in siege

Ousted Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has rejected through his representative in Europe claims he helped plan the Beslan school siege in which more than 330 people died.

    Many consider Maskhadov as a moderate among Chechen rebels

    Ahmed Zakayev, former Chechen deputy prime minister, told Der Spiegel news magazine Maskhadov had in fact tried to do everything to bring the siege to a peaceful end.

    Following the bloodbath in Beslan, Russia's FSB intelligence has offered up to $10.3 million for information leading to the "neutralisation" of Maskhadov.

    The Chechen resistance chief is wanted in connection with the school siege in North Ossetia and earlier attacks, including the bombing of two Russian jetliners last month with 90 dead.

    According to the London-based Zakayev, Maskhadov had a number of telephone conversations with leading Russian politicians after the hostage crisis began.

    They included North Ossetian President Alexander Dzasokhov and the former president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, who helped negotiate the release of 26 hostages from the school.

    'Terrible blow'

    The school siege ended with the
    death of hundreds, mostly pupils

    Maskhadov had agreed to do everything to de-escalate the crisis, and Zakayev said he himself had wanted to travel to Russia. However, events in Beslan went out of control.

    As shooting began, the captors phoned Aushev making it clear they were surprised by the apparent storming of the school, Zakayev told Der Spiegel.

    The captors' action was also "a terrible blow" for all people in Chechnya as it had "discredited our idea of independence", Zakayev said.

    He said Russian President Vladimir Putin was only trying to divert attention from the core conflict in Chechnya by calling Maskhadov a "child murderer" and blaming "international terrorism".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.