`He is honest, pleasant and modest. He will be a very good leader'
Wednesday 29 January 1997
Two hundred yards away, a small group of Chechen soldiers was gathering outside the modest home occupied by her neighbour. They were there to congratulate her mentor and hero, Aslan Maskhadov, on his new role as President of Chechnya. Although the results had yet to be officially confirmed, no one in Pervomayskoye, 12 miles west of Grozny, had much doubt that their village had become the homestead of a national leader. "He is honest, pleasant, and modest. He is a very good neighbour, and he will be a very good president," said Ms Alabayeva.
One accolade was missing, though. Both friends and opponents of Aslan Maskhadov, the former Chechen military commander, almost always call him a "compromiser", a man able to find an obshyi yazik with old enemies, the Russians, with whom Chechnya must somehow co-exist. But she did not.
Moscow, which favoured his candidacy, could go on kidding itself that the republic's new leader was flexible over the issue of Chechnya's independence from the Russian Federation, due to be settled in 2001. But there had been too much bloodshed. "There will be no compromise," Ms Alabayeva said.
Mr Maskhadov, 45, may be seen as moderate from afar, but this should not be overstated. True, he is more moderate than the other candidates for the presidency, particularly Shamil Basayev, the field commander who was runner-up. But he has more similarities with them than differences.
Russia will take reassurance from the fact that Mr Maskhadov signed the August peace deal with the Kremlin's envoy, Alexander Lebed, that ended the war. But he was also chief-of-staff in the Chechen command, and fought for nearly two years in the same tight-knit fighting force as Basayev. He was also forged in the furnace of separatist politics. A successful career in the Soviet Army took him to Georgia, Hungary and, finally, Lithuania, where he was colonel in charge of a rocket and artillery division. Like Dzhokhar Dudayev, the late president of Chechnya who served in Estonia, he was won over by the politics of independence.
- 1 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
- 4 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Scottish independence: Scots of Corby take matters into their own hands in mock referendum - and deliver overwhelming verdict
Protesters fight to save Arturo, the polar bear sweltering in baking hot zoo
Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
Supermoon 2014 in pictures: Moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war, 13,000 years ago
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...