Tags: Putin | Bears | Responsibility | for | Terrorism

Putin Bears Responsibility for Terrorism

Thursday, 09 September 2004 12:00 AM

But the facts suggest something more.

Consider the recent chronology of terrorism in Russia:

1) On Aug. 21, around 8 p.m. local time, about 300 Chechen guerrillas entered Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Russian experts say the operation was planned thoroughly and its organizers were certain of its success. That’s why they came into the city long before nightfall. This fact alone smashed the multiple claims of high-ranking Moscow officials – Putin, Defense Minister Ivanov, etc. – that “terrorists in Chechnya are almost beaten and peace is near.”

This operation is comparable to the guerrilla attack on Nazran, the capital of neighboring Ingushetia Republic, on June 21, but the scale of the action in Grozny was probably greater. The guerrillas attacked dozens of objectives in Grozny: police stations, voting polls (prepared for the election of a new president of Chechnya), army and police checkpoints, army barracks and the city market.

Guerrilla groups of five to seven fighters each moved freely all over the city, stopping cars and checking documents for the purpose of “revealing” army and police officers and local officials.

For the entire night the city was in guerrilla hands. Guerrillas left the city at sunrise, and Russian army and police forces made no attempt to pursue them. Guerrilla losses reportedly were no more than 15, while Russian losses amounted to about 100.

2) On Aug. 24, about 11 p.m. local time, two Russian passenger planes exploded almost simultaneously and fell on the ground. Both had departed from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport and headed south. One of them, a huge TU-155, fell in the Rostov region; the other, a TU-134, fell in the Tula region. Eighty-eight people, including 16 crewmembers, died in the two catastrophes.

It took KGB/FSB and the Russian Interior Ministry (police department) about four days to recognize that “evidently, the two aircraft were destroyed as a result of a suicide terrorist action. Women with Chechen names were among the passengers of both aircraft.”

3) On Aug. 31, a suicide terrorist action took place near the metro station “Rizhsckaya” in the northern part of Moscow. A young Chechen woman exploded herself – one more “black widow” from the North Caucasus –killing 10 persons and wounding 50. Reportedly, she intended to blow herself up inside the subway itself (i.e., to reproduce that huge terrorist action in a subway train in February 2004), but she got scared of policemen at the entrance.

These actions alone cost Russia, by the estimate of most informed Moscow journalists, more than 200 lives.

4) Finally, on Sept. 1, about 50 “Chechen fighters,” calling themselves the Islambuli Brigade, seized the school in Beslan in the North Ossetia Republic, about 100 kilometers west of Grozny. The terrorists were heavily armed with automatic rifles and grenade launchers.

The action took place on the first day of the new school year. Initially it was supposed that around 300 children and their parents were taken as hostages. Later it appeared that the number of hostages probably approached 1,200. The terrorists immediately concentrated the hostages in the school gymnasium and mined the entire school building.

Seven people were killed during the hostage taking and in skirmishes around the school building on Sept. 1. The terrorists demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the release of the fighters captured during the attack of Nazran on June 21. A very grim detail: For the first time in the nine-year history of “Chechen terrorist actions,” terrorists “deployed” the children at the school windows as a “live shield”.

Sept. 2 passed comparatively quietly; the terrorists released 26 women and babies under the age of 2.

On the afternoon of Sept. 3, Russian troops “spontaneously and accidentally” (if we are to trust the Russian officials) initiated the school storming, which was accompanied by multiple explosions inside and intensive use of artillery from outside. Hundreds died during the storming of the school.

During the past several days, Russian journalists independent of the Kremlin (the leftist media belonging to the “democratic opposition”) and Russian-language journalists in New York (from RTV TV channel, Forwerts weekly and other newspapers not connected with Moscow) have been asking the same, traditionally Russian question: “Who is guilty?”

Impressively, all these journalists, in both Moscow and New York, of both leftist and moderate democratic orientation – from the chief editor of the Zavtra weekly, Alexandr Prokhanov, up to the former coach of the NTV channel (earlier the twin of RTV and now a Russian-government-controlled TV channel) Viktor Shenderovich – are giving the same answer, with insignificant variations: “Kremlin, Putin, Moscow!”

A more detailed answer, cleaned of emotion, is as follows:

Supported by Moscow, Chechen Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov received around 75 percent of the votes, winning the election. Moscow proclaimed this election to be “honest and legitimate,” but the independent Russian media have another point of view.

Of course there are still several million people clad in the uniforms of the Russian army, police, FSB and other security forces. They are strong in looting, taking bribes, extorting tribute, shooting and arresting innocent people, and they are ruling supreme. They are absolutely helpless, however, in dealing with a real enemy!

These security forces, including Russian army officers deployed in Chechnya and the neighboring North Caucasus republics, are mostly corrupt. They probably wouldn’t arrest even Osama bin Laden entering a Moscow subway with a nuclear device, if he paid them handsomely enough.

And the mighty network of Chechen-controlled businesses in Moscow and other major Russian cities pays handsomely to key figures in the administration and security forces. These same businesses, enjoying a substantial share of the “oil-dollars rain” over Russia, have a lot of money to finance the guerrilla struggle in Chechnya and the most sophisticated terrorist actions in the North Caucasus republics and elsewhere in Russia.

Don’t look for another explanation for what’s happening, and be ready for even more terrible – much more terrible – terrorist strikes. Perhaps even the rumors about “nine nuclear suitcases stolen from former Soviet armories in the beginning of the 1990s, purchased by terrorists and installed in key points in Moscow for X hour” are not groundless.s

What is happening in Chechnya and the bordering republics is actual armed military conflict, having nothing to do with the worldwide war on terrorism, despite some ties of guerrilla leaders with al-Qaida and some presence of Arabs among Chechen guerrillas. But ethnic Russians are here as well. The flame of war now embraces the entire North Caucasus, and its sparks are falling on Moscow and elsewhere.

By the way, who was to blame for these actions? Chechen terrorists? In two Chechen wars, the Russian army and police-security forces killed more than 100,000 civilians and deeply harmed millions of them. This created a fertile ground for the emergence of many thousands of ruthless young terrorists of both sexes, who know nothing except hate and death. Their ultimate goal is to bring death from Chechnya to Moscow.

The Kremlin sowed the seeds of hatred, and now Russia deals with the harvest. A multitude of Chechen “black widows,” young women eagerly becoming suicide bombers, has evolved during the last two years into an outstanding component of terrorist-guerrilla activity. Most of them lost close relatives or were deeply insulted by Russian troops.

While discussing all these facts and trends, Moscow journalists and their New York colleagues could not miss the problem of “media freedom” in Russia or, more correctly, its absence.

Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist famous for her truthful description of the Chechnyan war, tried to reach Beslan. Her trip ended on Sept. 2 in a hospital in Rostov-on-Don, halfway between Moscow and Beslan. According to reliable data, Anna was poisoned and remains in very grave condition. Other “Putin unfriendly” journalists trying to reach Beslan by air were involved in fighting with the police at an airdrome and had been arrested.

Russian journalists in Moscow and New York, while admitting the unacceptability of the present situation in Chechnya, cannot find a comprehensive answer to one more famous Russian question: “What to do?” However, even if they find the answer, the Kremlin won’t change its policy. That’s because the independent media’s influence on and general public opinion of the present rulers of Russia are negligible.

More important, what should America do?

First of all, to recognize the truth, which no doubt is very close to the conclusions of the Russian independent media presented above. Our administration should make the right choice based on this truth.

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But the facts suggest something more. Consider the recent chronology of terrorism in Russia: 1) On Aug. 21, around 8 p.m. local time, about 300 Chechen guerrillas entered Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Russian experts say the operation was planned thoroughly and its...
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