Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Yet More on Russia

I suppose this may not be news to many of you, but this Counterpunch article explains some of the conflict between Russia and Chechnya, as well as pointing out two relevant facts:

A string of deadly apartment bombings in Russia may have been the work of Russian security services, and the movie theatre takeover had Russian security infiltrators involved. Here are the relevant paragraphs:

Putin's own rise to power was closely bound up with similar aggressive campaigns against Chechnia. In August 1999, Yeltsin nominated the largely unknown former security service veteran, Vladimir Putin, as head of the government. Shortly afterwards a series of bomb attacks destroyed blocks of flats in Moscow and other Russian cities, claiming hundreds of victims. Although the perpetrators were never properly identified, there were many indications that the secret service agency FSB was involved. Putin used the bombings as an excuse to once again undertake a full-scale military mobilisation against Chechnia. Appealing to Russian chauvinism and making crude attacks on Chechens he was swept into office as Russia's president on a wave of nationalist hysteria.

According to the story published by Anna Politkovskaia, a journalist of Novaia Gazeta, an agent of the FSB infiltrated the group of Chechen terrorists who took about 800 people hostage in a Moscow theatre in 2002. This agent succeeded in escaping the building and surviving the government rescue assault, as a result of which 129 hostages and the whole group of about 50 Chechen militants were killed. If this report is true, then Putin's government is guilty not only of a cruel and merciless overreaction to the hostage crisis, but also of directly organising one of the greatest armed provocations in recent Russian history.

It is still curious that the Russian government is denying a link between the terrorists and the situation in Chechnya, especially since the only reported demand was for a Russian withdrawal from Chechnya. I may not be understanding Putin's position here. Perhaps he's arguing that another force seeks to provoke the conflict.


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