Khasbulatov was born in Tolstoy-yurt, a village near Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, on November 22, 1942. Following Stalin's decision to deport the entire Chechen population on February 23, 1944, Khasbulatov was moved, along with his mother, to the Kazakh SSR; his father, mortally ill, remained behind in hospitalization and soon died.
After studying in the Almaty, Khasbulatov moved to Moscow in 1962, where he studied law at the prestigious Moscow State University. After graduating in 1966, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He continued his studies, focusing on the political, social and economic development of capitalist countries, and received several higher degrees between 1970 and 1980. During the 1970s and 1980s, he published a number of books on international economics and trade.
In the late 1980s, Khasbulatov began to work closely with rising maverick Communist Boris Yeltsin. He was elected to the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies in 1990. He followed Yeltsin in the successful resistance to the putsch attempt in 1991. He quit the Communist Party in August 1991, and on 29 October 1991 he was elected speaker of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR.
While Khasbulatov had been an ally of Yeltsin in this period, the two drifted apart following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. During the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, Khasbulatov (along with former Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoy) led the Russian Supreme Soviet in its power struggle with the president, which ended with Yeltsin's violent assault on and subsequent dissolution of the parliament in October 1993.
Khasbulatov was arrested along with the other leaders of the parliament. In 1994, the newly elected Duma pardoned him along with other key leaders of the anti-Yeltsin resistance.
Following the end of his political career, Khasbulatov returned to his earlier profession as a teacher of economics as founder and head of the Department of International Economy at the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics, REA. He continues to comment on political developments in Russia.
In 1995, Khasbulatov briefly considered running for office as a president of Chechnya.