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LIQUIDATION OF MASKHADOV A SUCCESS FOR RUSSIAN SECRET SERVICES

RIA Novosti

WASHINGTON, March 9, (RIA Novosti's Alexander Bratersky) - The liquidation of Chechen militant leader Aslan Maskhadov can be considered an undoubted success for Russian secret services, believes American political expert Dmitry Simes, president of the Nixon Center in Washington.

Although, without knowing the details of the operation, it is difficult to draw conclusions, still, proceeding from the fact that Maskhadov headed the forces of the Chechnya resistance that issued a challenge to Russia., his liquidation, as it seems to me, is, of course, a success for Russian secret services, the expert said in a RIA Novosti interview.

Whatever may be said of him (Maskhadov), it is hard to doubt that he was in the state of war against Russia and was leader of forces hostile to Russia, Simes noted.

The idea of negotiations with Maskhadov has repeatedly been voiced in U.S. Congress and among various influential political groups, the expert remarked. He further recalled that the George W. Bush administration did not take up the subject of talks with the separatist leader following the tragic theater siege in Dubrovka in 2000.

In Russia, it is often mistakenly thought that the Bush administration suggested Maskhadov as a negotiating partner, but starting from Dubrovka that was not the case, Simes said.

At the same time he said that the American position is that at some stage Maskhadov's former associates not tainted with the blood of innocent people may be drawn into Chechen settlement.

At the same time Simes thinks it is important to know how much Maskhadov's death may help Basayev to consolidate his grip over militant groups. The expert believes that the answer to that question will determine the effect the militant leader's death will have on the process of settlement in Chechnya.



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