Before the invasion of Dagestan in 1999, according to Boris Berezovsky, he claims he had a conversation with the Chechen Islamist ideologist and Basayev’s propaganda chief Movladi Udugov six months before the beginning of the rebel invasion of Dagestan. Allegedly, Udugov proposed to start the Dagestan war to provoke the Russian response, topple the Chechen president Maskhadov and establish a new Islamic republic made of Chechnya and Ingushetia that would be friendly to Russia.
Berezovsky asserted that he refused the offer, but “Udugov and Basayev conspired with Stepashin and Putin to provoke a war to topple Maskhadov [...] but the agreement was for the Russian army to stop at the Terek River. Putin double-crossed the Chechens and started an all-out war.” A transcript of the conversation was leaked to one of Moscow’s tabloids on September 10, 1999. Nevertheless, even if the Russian Army would have stopped at the Terek River, they could have still taken over Chechnya, as most of the Terek River flows through Chechnya. And the part that borders Dagestan, where the Russian Army was to allegedly stop, had no major river crossing. Basayev claimed that he would never sell Chechnya to Putin, and denied the making of such a deal.
The invasion of Dagestan was the start of the new Russian-Chechen conflict and was regarded by the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya as a provocation initiated from Moscow to start war in Chechnya, because Russian forces provided safe passage for Islamic fighters back to Chechnya. However, there were no Russian forces in the Chechen rear to prevent said passage from being safe. It was reported that Alexander Voloshin of the Yeltsin administration paid Basayev to stage this military operation. Basayev allegedly worked for the Russian GRU. However, Basayev denied any involvement with the GRU, nor was there any actual evidence of Basayev’s involvement as a GRU agent.
A member of Russia’s KPRF Duma Faction, Viktor Ilyukhin, who served as a co-chair of the defense committee, charged the FSB with “failing to timely disclose the information about Berezovksy’s financing of Chechen Rebel Leaders”. Ilyukhin believes that had Berezovsky’s finances been timely exposed, the number of civilian and military casualties in Chechenya, on both sides, would have been greatly diminished. Berezovsky had the motive of seizing the Caucasian Region due to its oil and gas reserves. Ilyukhin fails to mention how Berezovsky would have controlled said Caucasian Region’s Government if his “plan” worked. One way of the finances is that the Chechens would capture civilians, and demand monetary compensation; yet Maskhadov and Basayev often complained that parts of the compensation were siphoned to a mysterious third party.
When the FSB published their charges against Berezovsky, he responded by blaming the FSB for the Apartment Bombings, and stating that he had a movie to show the Russian Public that would be shown on TV-6 in 2002. However TV-6 was shut down by the Russian Government, and the movie is yet to be seen or published.
Despite the reduction of large-scale military operations 10 years ago in Chechnya, a guerrilla war waged by Islamic fundamentalists rages on, and has brought a striking level of violence and bloody insurgency to the neighboring Caucasus republic of Dagestan.
For decades, and in much of the world’s eyes, all the news coming from the North Caucasus seemed focused on the cataclysm in Chechnya. Now, with Grozny slowly emerging from decades of chaos, Dagestan – the largest, most heterogeneous and, today, the most violent republic in the North Caucasus region – is raising its international profile, With a population of about 3 million people, Dagestan — bordering Chechnya, with the Caspian Sea to the east and Georgia and Azerbaijan to the south — is comprised of more then 40 ethnic groups. Ethnic Russians make up roughly four and half percent of the republic’s total population, while political power is held mainly by the two largest groups: the Avar and Dargin, both of whom practice Sufism, or the region’s traditional brand of Islam. Recently, however, Salafism — a puritanical form of Islam practiced largely in Saudi Arabia — has begun to make inroads, further complicating the already tangled political and religious picture.