Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ilyas Akhmadov

To assist in my wife's transition to a new job and my kids start of the school year I had a few days off. I had a bit more time to read and paint miniatures over the past four days!

Yesterday during a brief lull I finished reading The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won and Lost by Ilyas Akhmadov and Miriam Lanskoy. The book is not exactly a biography or memoir although it does cover the Chechen struggle from 1994 until 2010 according to one well placed participant. Ilyas Akhmadov held two different posts under Maskhadov, elected president in 1997, and was a long-time friend of Shamil Basayev, revered/reviled rebel commander. He served in the Soviet army and during the First Chechen War he participated in some fighting, but for the most part he was not a fighter, but an adviser to Chechen politicians, serving first as a public affairs officer at the staff headquarters of Maskhadov during the First Chechen War, advising Shamil Basayev during the inter-war period and then in the Second War he served as Foreign Minister. I found the book especially enlightening when describing the situation between the wars and the relationship between the leaders of Chechnya. His coverage of the war and specific events is spotty and brief. The death of his Shamil Basayev, for instance, isn't discussed at all (Maskhadov's death warrants its own chapter) and neither is the raid in Nazran. Ilyas mentions historic events to introduce his observations and theories about the relationships he witnessed. He doesn't attempt to chronicle the wars. Overall I'm a bit skeptical about some of his observations as no other book that I've read describes the first battle for Grozny as he does (a surprising turn of events by poorly armed, mostly inexperienced, unevenly led rebel militia) and his opinion of Basayev is generously nuanced. It's a rare look inside of the Chechen government by a moderate who actually knew some of the key participants and so despite my reservations I did enjoy the book.

Ilyas Akhmadov

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