Shamil Basayev is a Chechen separatist leader.
He came to prominence in 1995 during the first Chechen war when he led a hostage-taking raid at Budennovsk, Russia. Around January 1, 1998 he was appointed prime minister of Chechnya by president Aslan Maskhadov for a six month term, after which he resigned.
During the rebel withdraw from Grozny in January 2000 he lost a foot after stepping on a landmine, but eluded Russian capture together with other rebels by hiding in forests and mountains. He welcomed assistance from Islamic groups including the Taleban of Afghanistan and was accused by Russia of organising suicide bombings of Russian apartment blocks in September 1999.
Around November 2, 2002 Basayev said on a rebel website that he was responsible for the Moscow theatre siege. He also tendered his resignation from all posts in Maskadov's rebel organisation, apart from the reconnaissance and sabotage battalion. He defended the operation but asked Maskhadov for forgiveness for not informing him of it.