Moscow, 23 July 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today voiced "grave concern and outrage" at an assassination attempt against the president of Russia's breakaway republic of Chechnya. The Kremlin said Yeltsin blamed the attempt on Aslan Maskhadov's life on forces trying to destabilize Chechnya and expressed support for Maskhadov's efforts to curb violence in the republic. Maskhadov today escaped with a slight knee injury after a bomb exploded near
At least one person was killed in the attack. Maskhadov blamed the
attack on unspecified foreign special services acting with the help of Chechen
middlemen. He told journalists that despite the assassination attempt he would
stick to his policies.
Last week Chechen security forces fought a battle with Islamic military units
in which at least nine people were killed. Maskhadov ordered the units to
disband, called up reservists, and extended a state of emergency by 10 days.
In Russia, both Aleksandr Lebed, who brokered the 1996 peace deal between
Russia and Chechnya, and Ivan Rybkin, Russia's main negotiator with the
breakaway republic, said they believed Chechen extremists were behind the
attempt on Maskhadov's life.
Maskhadov has cracked down on armed Islamic fundamentalists who
want to build a state based on a strict interpretation of Shariah,
or Islamic law. Clashes in the breakaway Russian republic involving as many as
1,000 fighters from different factions left at least nine people dead last week.