Sergei Stepashin, former head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), told journalist Alexey Pivovarov of Redaktsiya YouTube channel on July 2 that Chechen warlord Shamyl Basayev, who fought against the Georgian forces in Abkhazia in 1992-93, cooperated with the Russian intelligence in the wake of the armed conflict in the Black Sea region.
“[Basayev was a] professional terrorist and he hijacked an airplane even under the Soviet rule. And, by the way, he led the so-called battalion of “Abkhazia”, which in 1992 drew blood during the war with Georgia. And the late [Abkhaz leader Vladislav] Ardzinba handed him the gold star medal of the “Hero of Abkhazia”. But some of our comrades apparently worked with him back then. But not the FSB and not the FSK [Federal Counterintelligence Service],” Stepashin said, implicitly pointing the finger at the military intelligence – the GRU.
Responding to the journalist’s question when and where the cooperation took place, Stepashin responded curtly “Georgia, 1992”.
Shamyl Basayev became notorious as a field commander during the conflict in Abkhazia, where he fought against the Georgian forces on the side of Abkhaz separatist units. Basayev subsequently fought as a senior rebel commander against Russia in both Chechen campaigns and organized the deadliest terror attacks against Russia. He was killed in 2006, aged 41, in an explosion.
Georgia has long accused Russia of aiding Abkhaz rebels during the conflict in Abkhazia, including by training and equipping North Caucasian militants to fight the Georgian forces.
The Chechen warlord, who served as a deputy defense minister of the Abkhaz separatist regime in the 1990s, had been wanted by Georgian law-enforcement bodies for years for committing war crimes during the conflict.
In early 2008, then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russia of sending Basayev to Abkhazia to fight against Georgia.