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Vakha Arsanov (Russian: Ваха Арсанов; 1950–2005) was a vice president in the Aslan Maskhadov's government of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.


Early life

Vakha Arsanov was born in 1950 in Dagestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In the Soviet times he worked as a traffic police officer in the rank of Captain. In 1991, Arsanov supported Dzhokar Dudayev's National Congress of Chechen People and became a deputy in Dudayev's parliament. During the First Chechen War became a military commander for the Chechen separatist forces in the rank of Divisional General. He took part in the Battle of Dolinskoye, Battle of Grozny and others.

After the war, in January 1997, he run an on the same ticket as the separatist forces' chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov. The two won Chechnya's presidential election when almost 300,000 Chechen voters chose Maskhadov and Arsanov.

Vice-President of Chechnya

In February 1997, a remote-controlled bomb blast damaged two cars in the motorcade of Arsanov as it passed through central Grozny; his press spokesman alleged the attack was "a carefully planned operation by the Russian secret services," designed to destabilize Chechnya by provoking conflict between supporters of Maskhadov and Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, the outgoing acting president.[1] Same year, Arsanov rejected the Boris Yeltsin's idea to created a commission tasked with drafting a power-sharing treaty with Chechnya and asserted that Russian-Chechen relations should be based on international law.[2] In April, he accused the Russian secret services of organizing a terrorist bombings the Russian town of Pyatigorsk and Armavir,[3] claimed by Salman Raduyev. In May, Russian leaders formally apologized for the incident in which Russian fighter aircraft intercepted Arsanov's plane shortly after it took off from Grozny en route for the Netherlands.[4] In September, Arsanov threatened to "execute" Russian Cabinet leaders for their "genocide" during the war and said to "spit" on Russia; the Russian government demanded that Arsanov retract "the insulting statements" and apologize, which he did not do.[5] In November, he served as the acting president while Maskhadov was on vacation.[6]

In July 1998, together with Shamil Basayev, Arsanov saved the "Wahhabi" forces aided by a renegade former generals Arbi Barayev and Abdul-Malik Mezhidov from total destruction during the confrontation with the Maskhadov's government forces in Gudermes.[7] In an August 1998 televised conference, Arsanov said that by attacking Afghanistan and Sudan the United States had launched an "undeclared World War III" and ordered an attack against the Americans on the global scale; he said that Bill Clinton had been put on the "wanted list" for his crimes against the Islamic people and would be tried according to Sharia laws.[8][9] In December, Arsanov defected to the opposition, which was agitating for a new Islamist state constitution.[10]

Arsanov was accused of involvement in criminal activity, including kidnappings of foreigners,[11][12][13][14] and connections with the Chechen mafia in Moscow.[15] In one incident, North Ossetian officials arrested five Chechens, apparently to trade for the release of Ossetian citizens held hostage in Chechnya; the Chechens were released when Arsanov threatened to invade Vladikavkaz, the capitol of North Ossetia.[16] In February 1999, Arsanov was sacked by a presidential decree abolishing his post, but said he will not leave office unless President Maskhadov also steps down. He said the republic's top Islamic body, the Shura, should be allowed to select a new national leadership to transform Chechnya into an Islamic state.[10]

After the Second Chechen War begun in 1999, Arsanov said that the State Defense Council had decided to forbid "Chechen leaders from conducting negotiations or getting in touch with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin".[17] In October, ruled out holding political negotiations with Russia, saying Chechnya expects the European Union and the United States to pressure Russia into ending the military operation.[18] In February 2000, Arsanov, together with Basayev, were reported to have announced the start of "total military actions on the whole of Russian territory."[19] He soon disappeared in Georgia where he was treated for an injury, appearing publcily in the presence of President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze,[20] later reportedly moving to Nazran in Ingushetia.[21] He resurfaced in 2001 to describe the continuing opposition to Russian federal forces as "pointless," for what he was once again fired by Maskhadov on August 31, 2001.

Late life and death

In February 2003, the AFP reported Arsanov issued a video call to the Chechen resistance to put an end to attacks on pro-Moscow Chechen militia.[22] According to the Russian media reports, he became close with Akhmad Kadyrov, the pro-Moscow head of the republic who asked the federal center for an amnesty for Arsanov,[23] while some other sources he together with Isa Munayev stayed as one of the last commanders still fully loyal to Maskhadov.[24] According to the Kommersant report,[25] Arsanov was detained by the Chechen OMON led by the former separatist commander Artur Akhmadov.[26][27] In February 2005, the separatists protested the alleged arrest and detention of Arsanov by the Russian party.[28] On May 15, 2005, Russia announced that during a raid in the village of Ivanovo, a suburb of Grozny, pro-Russian police and militia forces killed four militants, including Arsanov.[29] The death was shrouded in mystery, including uncertainty voiced by the Russian officials (the bodies were reported to be burned too badly to be identified), and the previous information by the separatist sources that Arsanov was at the time in the Russian custody. According to the some reports, Arsanov was held in Ramzan Kadyrov's private prison in Tsentoroi and unsuccessfully tortured there in order to incline him toward cooperating with the young Kadyrov against Maskhadov.[26][30][31] In fact, the claim that Arsanov was being tortured at an unofficial prison run by Kadyrov was already cited by The Moscow Times in February.[32] It was also claimed the son of Arsanov, Rizvan, was also killed, shot dead during the torture sessions.


  2. Chechnya in Brief (From 1990 to March 1997)
  5. Russian-Chechen Agreement on Rebuilding a Major Oil Pipeline Is Beginning to Unravel
  6. Chechen leaders deplore dismissal of Berezovskiy
  8. Chechnya declares war on USA
  9. Chechen leader calls for terrorist war against U.S. and says President Clinton should be killed
  10. 10.0 10.1 Islamist vice-president defies Chechen leader
  11. Hawks and Doves Circle over Chechnya
  12. Chechnya Burning
  13. The Drama Behind 'Nord-Ost'
  14. The Kidnapping Mafia (Chechnya)
  15. The Background of Chechen Independence Movement IV: The Internal Power Struggle in Chechnya
  16. Amanta Nagayeva
  17. Chechens trapped as Russians cut off escape
  18. Russia: Troops Near Chechen Capital
  19. Putin says Russia has taken Chechen capital; Rebels say they're ready to fight for 50 years
  20. The Security Organs of the Russian Federation (Part IV)
  21. U.S. Know-How Doesn't Work in Chechnya
  22. Unexpected announcement by Vakha Arsanov
  23. Who Will Stand in for Maskhadov?
  25. Report: Arsanov Arrested
  26. 26.0 26.1 Rebel Site: Kadyrov Torturing Arsanov
  27. Aslan Maskhadov Killed
  28. Maskhadov’s Last Earthly Comments about the Upcoming "Round Table"
  29. Rumors about possible death of Vakha Arsanov
  31. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of CRI expressed protest to PACE

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