Talk about grasping at straws: Note that Maskhadov was what passed for a voice of moderation. “Key Chechen rebel killed in raid, Russia says,” from the Cox News Service, with thanks to Nicolei:
MOSCOW — A Chechen rebel leader accused of orchestrating deadly terrorist attacks against Russians was killed in a raid by security forces in northern Chechnya, military officials said yesterday, providing a boost to President Vladimir Putin in his campaign against the separatists.
Aslan Maskhadov, 53, was killed during a “special operation” conducted in Tolstoy-Yurt, a village near the capital, Grozny, in the northern part of the war-torn republic, Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev told Mr. Putin in a televised meeting….
The Chechen “resistance will continue, no doubt about it,” said the spokesman, Akhmed Zakayev….
The death of Mr. Maskhadov raises the spectre of retaliatory attacks by Chechen militants, blamed for killing 430 people in bombings and other attacks against Russians last year….
It also silences what some considered to be a voice of moderation. Mr. Maskhadov had recently called for face-to-face talks with Mr. Putin. In February, he sought a weeklong ceasefire before the 61st anniversary of the Stalin-ordered deportation of Chechens to Siberia and Central Asia.
Russian officials had dismissed the ceasefire call as insincere and said violence by rebel forces continued in the tiny republic on Russia’s southern flank. They have insisted that Mr. Maskhadov played a role in planning the Beslan school massacre last year and the 202 seizure of 800 hostages at a Moscow theatre.