Then and now

The Chechens knew it was not in their interests to carry out any terrorist attacks. Public opinion was on their side, and public opinion, both Russian and international, was more valuable to them than two or three hundred lives abruptly cut short. That was why the Chechens could not have been behind the terrorist attacks of September 1999. And the Chechens must be given credit for always denying their involvement in these bombings. Here is what Ilyas Akhmadov, minister of foreign affairs in Aslan Maskhadov’s government, had to say on that point:

Question: In France you talk as though everybody knows that the terrorist attacks in Moscow and Volgodonsk were set up by the Russian secret services… Do you have any proof?

Answer: “Of course. Throughout the last war, we never showed the slightest inclination for that sort of thing. But if it had been organized by Basaev or Khattab, I can assure you that they wouldn’t have been shy about admitting it to Russia. What’s more, everybody knows that the failed bombing in Ryazan was organized by the FSB…I myself served in the army as a demolition officer at a military proving ground, and I know perfectly well what a great difference there is between an explosive and sugar.”

Here is the opinion of another interested party with whom it is hard to disagree, the Chechen minister of defense and commander of the presidential guard, Magomed Khambiev:

“Now for the explosions in Moscow. Why are the Chechens not committing acts of terrorism now, when our people are being annihilated? Why did the Russian authorities pay no attention to the hexogene incident in Ryazan, when the police had detained a member of the secret services with this explosive? There’s not a single piece of evidence for the so-called Chechen connection in these bombings. And the bombings were least of all in the interest of the Chechens. But what is hidden will certainly be revealed. I assure you that the perpetrators and planners of the bombings in Moscow will become known, when there’s a change of political regime in the Kremlin. Because those who ordered the bombings should be sought in the corridors of the Kremlin. These bombings were necessary in order to start the war, in order to distract the attention of Russians and the whole world from the scandals and dirty intrigues going on in the Kremlin.”

Suspicions arose that the bombings were being carried out by people attempting to force the government to declare a state of emergency and cancel the elections. A number of politicians rejected the idea: “I don’t agree with the statements of certain analysts who connect this series of terrorist attacks with somebody’s intentions to declare a state of emergency in Russia and cancel the elections to the State Duma,”declared former Russian minister of the interior Kulikov in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta on September 11. The Chechens could not have had any interest in presidential elections or the declaration of a state of emergency in Russia. In 1996, it was the Korzhakov-Barsukov-Soskovets group and the secret services standing behind them that supported the cancellation of the election. So who was attempting to provoke the declaration of a state of emergency in 1999?

– Alexander Litvinenko, Blowing up Russia, pp. 87-88.

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