Imran Zakhaev (Russian: Имран Захаев, Imran Zakaev; June 12 1938 - June 11 2011) was a Russian terrorist and former leader of the Russian Ultranationalist Party. Before this, he was a Major-General of the Red Army, stationed in the Caucasus. Zakhaev was imprisoned for his involvement in the 1993 Russian Constitutional Crisis, but given amnesty a year later. After his release, he left the army and formed the Ultranationalist Party, and would launch a terror campaign against Russia for over a decade.
Zakhaev was killed during a skirmish with Loyalist Ground Forces in the Atlay Mountains in 2011. After his death, Zakhaev's image of fighting to restore Russia's prestige as an international power inspired support for the Ultranationalists after their change to a parliamentary party. A statue is dedicated to him in Moscow's Red Square.
Zakhaev was born in Levaya Rossosh, Voronezh Oblast. He graduated from the Tashkent Higher Combined Arms Command School, finished the Frunze Military Academy (with the gold medal), and the General Staff Academy (with the gold medal) during the 1960s. He became major general of the Red Army in 1979, serving in the Caucasus region.
In 1989, Zakhaev was elected to the Supreme Soviet. He also ran in the 1991 presidential election as an "independent nationalist", obtaining 3.74%. He then supported the Soviet coup d'état attempt that took place later in the same year. During October crisis of 1993 he was in charge of the defense of the White House. He organized a people army which, on 3 October, stormed the police cordons, seized the Moscow Mayor's office and attempted to seize the Ostankino Tower. After the rebellion was suppressed, Zakhaev and a number of other opposition figures were arrested.
Ultranationalist Party Edit
Zakhaev was granted amnesty in 1994. He left the Armed Forces and formed the Ultranationalist Party with supporters mainly from the Army. In the early years, the Party mainly associated themselves with illegal arms trading before full mobilization.
In 1996, the British Government took acception to Zakhaev's arms dealings, particularely nuclear-related deals. The British authorised a secret assassination order, the first and only since World War II, on Zakhaev's life.
SAS forces were mobilised to Pripyat, Ukraine, to eliminate Zakhaev during an arms deal involving material from the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Zakhaev was hit by a 50-calibre bullet and assumed dead by the SAS, however he had survived as the bullet had dismembered his left arm.
Zakhaev's terrorist attacks began in 2001 with the bombing of a bus in Moscow, killing 29 people and injuring 19. This was followed by a massacre at a Moscow GUM mall, killing 87. Numerous terrorist attacks would hit both Russian and foreign targets as Zakhaev increased the reputation of his group. Russia declared formal hostilities against Zakhaev and the Ultranationalists in 2005 following allegations that Ultranationalists were involved in the June 7 Bombings in London, United Kingdom, thus starting the Second Russian Civil War.
After the 2003 Russian Presidential Elections, the Ultranationalist Party absorbed the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and made it into the Ultranationalist's political wing. Boris Vorshevsky, a LDPR politician and ultranationalist sympathiser, was made leader of the party, replacing Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
For the first few years of the war, the conflict between the Ultranationalists and the Loyalists simmered steadily. This was in part due to the Russia's other insurgencies between Chechen rebels and South Ossetia-Georgia. The latter would culminate in the Russo-Georgian War in August 2008. At the conclusion of the war, as well as the Chechen insurgency dying down, the Russian Government announced it's full attention to eliminating Zakhaev and the Ultranationalist threat.
Zakhaev knew that a war with Russia, particularly with Russia's nuclear arsenal on the line, knew that a straight up fight would attract too much attention. Therefore, he allied himself with Khaled Al-Asad, leader of the Yemeni OpFor. It is believed Zakhaev gave Al-Asad arms and technical assault, which led to the kidnapping and execution of Yemeni President Yasir Al-Fulani. In fact, the safehouse Al-Asad was killed in was in Azerbaijan, not far from Russia.
On June 11 2011, Zakhaev and his Ultranationalist forces found themselves in a skirmish with SAS and US Marine Forces, supported by the Russian Loyalist Ground Forces in the Altay Mountains, roughly 100km north of the Kazakh border. The British and American forces were on assignment in the area, trying to link Zakhaev and the Sana'a Nuclear Bombing. The skirmish spilled over to the nearby Chuya Highway continued for several miles until the rolling battle was halted at a collapsed bridge. Russian Forces soon arrived and assisted the British and Americans to hold back the Ultranationalists, which included killing Zakhaev.
By sheer coincidence, one of the SAS personnel that were involved in the skirmish that resulted in Zakhaev's death was Captain John Price, who had shot Zakaev in the failed 1996 assassination. However, it was one of Price's subordinates, Seargent John MacTavish, who killed Zakhaev.
Zakhaev's body was buried in an undisclosed location.
Zakhaev's death caused a rift within the Ultranationalist Party, between the moderate and extreme elements of the party. The moderates, led by Boris Vorshevsky, would ultimately succeed, and would transform the group into a legitimate political party. Meanwhile, his defeated extremist rival, Vladimir Makarov, would form his own sect in the party, dubbed the "Inner Circle", and would continue the terrorist acts made by the group in the past.
Zakhaev would become a symbol of Russian ultranationalism. His party had been written off as another post-Soviet insurgency that sought the independence of a former nation. However, in the early 2010s, the Russian people were starting to grow frustrated over the governance of their country, both economically and in foreign policy. Zakhaev highlighted what Russia lost when it became the Russian Federation, and what it needed to be great again. Vorshevsky's ultranationalists portrayed Zakhaev as a martyr for their cause and a symbol fo the people to believe him.
Vorshevsky would win the 2014 Russian Presidential election over Vladimir Putin, ending United Russia's 23 year rule over the country. A statue of Zakhaev, with the subtitle "Hero of the New Russia", was unveiled in Red Square following Vorshevsky's inaugration.
This biography is based on Albert Makashov, Russian politician with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and former Presidential candidate. Upon release from prison through amnesty in 1994, Makashov was elected a deputy to the State Duma as a member of the Communist Party.