Thatcher link to Chechens will embarrass UK
Thursday 05 March 1998
Aslan Maskhadov will have no shortage of big-name supporters during his time in London. Imran Khan is hosting a dinner for the Chechen leader, as is the former chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Tebbit. Mr Maskhadov's visit is being hosted by Lord McAlpine, businessman and former Tory treasurer. Lord McAlpine was an important ally of the late Sir James Goldsmith, whose daughter Jemima is married to Imran Khan.
Lady Thatcher's support for Mr Maskhadov is a remarkable turnaround. During the Soviet era, she was the most loyal international supporter of the then Kremlin leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and was notably reluctant to criticise the Soviet use of force against the Baltic states and in the Caucasus.
Part of the explanation for her high-profile support for Mr Maskhadov may lie in her warm relationship with Lord MacAlpine, who has become the most vocal supporter in Britain of the Chechen cause.
The Chechen leadership is keen to distant itself from international perceptions of lawlessness. In what may partly be an attempt to gain favourable publicity ahead of next week's visit, Chechnya yesterday announced a reward of $100,000 (pounds 62,000) for anyone helping to find the two British aid workers who were kidnapped in Chechnya last year, Camilla Carr and Jon James. The government appealed to the kidnappers: "If you still have honour and conscience, and feel any compassion for the Chechen people, you must release the hostages."
Lord McAlpine's support for the Chechens is said by his friends to be based on an "instant affinity" and his liking for "a very impressive people". He visited Chechnya last year, and has played an important role in trying to establish investment funds for Chechnya, where he seems set to become a key regional player.
Analysts of Caucasian affairs argue that Lord McAlpine is also interested in the potential commercial spin-offs in the region. The routing of an oil pipeline through Chechnya could have key implications in the years to come. A new Chechen-led investment fund wants to raise $3bn (pounds 1.86bn) for the Caucasus region.
When Chechnya declared independence from Russia, President Yeltsin launched a bloody war against the rebels. Large parts of the capital, Grozny, and other Chechen towns were destroyed. Tens of thousands died.
A peace agreement left Chechnya as a kind of no-man's-land. The Russians have partly renounced their claim to dominate Chechnya, while still refusing to acknowledge Chechnya as an international player.
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...