Khozh-Ahmed Tashtamirovich Noukhayev (Russian: Хож-Ахмет Таштамирович Нухаев) (born November 11, 1954), also spelled Hozh-Ahmed Nukhaev, Nukhayev or Noukhaev, was a leader of the Chechen mafia known as Obshina and a prominent figure in Chechen politics. He was born in Central-Asian exile into the Yalkhoi teip (clan) from the Geldagan village in Shalinsky District of the Chechen Republic.
He arrived in Moscow in 1974 and matriculated into Moscow State University, Faculty of Law. Along with Said-Khasan Abumuslimov (later Vice-President of Chechnya under Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev) he organized an underground committee for the liberation of Chechnya called Obshina. The committee studied books by Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Andrei Sakharov. According to Noukhaev, Abumuslimov was responsible for politics and information while he took care of financial matters and weapons. In 1980 Nukhaev was sentenced to eight years for banditry, which he claimed were actually for political reasons. During this time he acquired the nickname “Khozha” and was considered a boss of the Chechen mafia along with Nikolay Suleimanov. By 1987 Chechen criminals had developed into a well-organized community under Nukhayev and Suleimanov, the group tried to force the most influential Russian Mafia gangs (the Lyubertsy, Solntsevo, and Balashikha) out of Moscow which allowed the Chechens to occupy the dominant position for some time.
Activities during the Second Chechen War
Soon after the start of the Second Chechen War, Nukhaev left for Baku, Azerbaijan, and financed the underground Chechen newspapers Ichkeria and Mekh-kell. In 1999 he made a public statement calling for an international commission to bring peace to Chechnya, saying Russia will never gain its objectives by military means because the Chechen people's will for self-determination is such that guerrilla warfare will continue for years. Noukhaev said the first step in the peace process should be establishment of an International Commission headed by such respected world figures as former President Jimmy Carter or former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to oversee the freeing of illegally detained persons on both sides. It is believed by some that he also helped finance the militant groups of Ruslan Gelayev and Aslambek Abdulkhadzhiev. In 2001 Nukhaev first proposed the controversial idea (among both his allies and enemies) of splitting Chechnya into a northern Russian half and a southern de facto, but not de jure Ichkerian half. That same year Nukhaev founded the inter-teip movement Nokhchi-Latta-Islam, and politician Aleksandr Dugin was also working with him during this time.
Book by Paul Klebnikov
Noukhaev was the subject of a book entitled Conversation with a Barbarian: Interviews with a Chechen Field Commander on Banditry and Islam by the late American/Russian journalist Paul Klebnikov. The book is based on interviews with Noukhaev conducted by Klebnikov in Baku, Azerbaijan. In it, Noukhaev discusses his past, including his involvement in criminal activities in Moscow and creating Caucasian Common Market. He also argues for the superiority of the Chechen and Islamic clan/tribal-based social system, while Klebnikov argues for an opposite position. After Klebnikov's murder in Moscow in 2004, it was alleged that Noukhaev had ordered the killing in retaliation for his negative portrayal in this book. Several Chechens were charged with carrying out the killing on Noukhayev's orders but all were subsequently acquitted at trial.
Political activities in Russia
After April 2001, he became actively involved in work of Eurasia Party led by Russian nationalist Aleksandr Dugin, despite being officially wanted by police. On June 28, 2001, he appeared on the Dugin party's press conference in Moscow to propose that Chechnya be divided into North Chechnya (the plains region within the frame of the Russian Federation) and South Chechnya (the mountain region largely independent from Russia, but still closedly bonded to Russia and fiercily hostile to "Wahhabism", that is Islamic fundamentalism).
Possible death in the Mountains of Dagestan
Khozh-Akhmed Nukhaev stayed in Azerbaijan for an extended period of time. It is from there that he edited the internet site named after him, Noukhaev.com. Since Spring 2004 no new information has come through from him. According to some sources, Nukhaev secretly arrived in Chechnya in late 2003. He supposedly convinced Ruslan Gelayev to cross Dagestan to Georgia and was with a group of Gelayev's fighters when they were surrounded in the mountains during the winter of 2004. Some of Gelayev's men were killed, some taken captive and on February 28 Gelayev himself was allegedly killed. Several sources consider that Nukhaev was killed alongside the fighters, although another version maintains that he was released. In support of the first version is the circumstantial evidence that neither Ichkeria or Mekh-Kell newspapers are being issued. There are no new book-brochures by Nukhaev about Russian-Chechen and international relations, or promoting his opinion on the future of Chechnya. These book-brochures were brought from Azerbaijan and can sometimes still be found in the markets of Grozny and Nazran.