Former Speaker of Russia’s Parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov – who was a close ally of President Boris Yeltsin before turning against him in 1993 – has died, state television said on Tuesday.
Khasbulatov, an ethnic Chechen, died at his home outside Moscow at the age of 80, the television report said, citing relatives.
An economist by training, Khasbulatov was a close ally of Yeltsin in the last days of the Soviet Union. The two resisted the coup of August 1991 together.
Khasbulatov was appointed speaker of the Russian parliament – called the Supreme Soviet – after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 by then President Yeltsin.
But Yeltsin and Khasbulatov quickly became political rivals, with the power struggle culminating in the 1993 October uprising, when Yeltsin sent tanks to storm the parliament building.
Khasbulatov was briefly imprisoned after the rebellion. He was amnestied in 1994 but his political career was over.
“Yeltsin basically ruined my life,” Khasbulatov told the mass-circulation newspaper Argumenty i Fakty in 2014, quoting Khasbulatov.
Prominent rights activist Alexander Cherkasov also said Khasbulatov died on Tuesday, but did not provide any details on the cause of death.
Cherkasov said on Facebook that Khasbulatov’s body will be taken to his native Chechen village of Tolstoi-Yurt.
Chechnya “peace plan”
Khasbulatov was born in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, in 1942.
In 2003 he said he would run for the presidency of Chechnya, but later decided against it.
Elections in Chechnya were set as part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to bring peace to the shattered republic, where federal forces have been fighting separatists since 1999.
Khasbulatov had opposed Putin’s “peace plan” for Chechnya, arguing instead that negotiations with separatists were necessary to end the long war.
The same year Khasbulatov and several other figures publicly appealed to US President George W. Bush to address Putin’s poor democratic and human rights credentials.
Yelena Bonner, wife of the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, and former political prisoner Vladimir Bukovsky also signed the open letter.