Thursday 28 July 2005
July 28, 2005
Russia: RFE/RL Interviews Chechen Field Commander Umarov
By Andrei Babitsky http://gdb.rferl.org/B3AB7C14-06C9-4B8C-B4FB-924C8AC312C4_w203.jpg In mid-June, RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitskii traveled to Chechnya where he established contact with field commander Doku Umarov, one of only two commanders who have fought with the Chechen resistance since 1995, throughout both wars. Following the Khasavyurt accord that ended the first Chechen war in 1996 and the election of Aslan Maskhadov as president in January 1997, Umarov was named by Maskhadov to head the Chechen Security Council. In that capacity, he intervened in July 1998 to quash an armed clash between moderates and Islamic radicals within Maskhadov's entourage. During the second war, Umarov has commanded the southwestern front, the region southwest of Grozny that borders on Georgia and Ingushetia. Russian officials have branded Umarov, like other resistance leaders, a "terrorist," but he has unequivocally distanced himself from the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by his fellow field commander Shamil Basaev. Umarov does not, however, refer to Basaev by name anywhere in his interview with Babitskii.