RFE/RL reports that following the death of Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, Dokka Umarov has been named Ichkerian President. In mid-June 2005 RFE/RL's Andrei Babitsky interviewed Umarov, and the field commander explained his political positions. An excerpt:
RFE/RL: Let's talk about terrorism. Your commander Shamil Basaev planned and carried out several terrorist acts. To justify himself, he wrote in one letter that Allah gives one the right to take away from someone what he has taken from you.
Umarov: In any case, we do not have that right today. If we were to use those methods, then I think not one of us would be able to return as normal humans.
RFE/RL: There were terrorist acts in Beslan, in Moscow, and the responsibility for that blood lies both with the Russian authorities and with the entire Chechen resistance. Does that mean that such acts have been acknowledged, have been granted moral legitimacy by the Chechen resistance?
Umarov: No, in the eyes of the resistance such operations have no legitimacy. We ourselves were horrified by what they did in Beslan. Because we know the concrete facts of what our people hoped for, how it all began.
RFE/RL: Well, no matter what they hoped for, it is obvious that kidnapping children means putting their lives in great danger.
Umarov: That is a fact. Definitely, if one knows what to expect from the Kremlin. I, for example, knowing Putin, knowing his team -- it is a fact that on the first day one could have expected that this would be an enormous threat for the children. And that's how it turned out, that's how the operation ended up.