In September, 1999, Russia was wracked by a series of explosions that President Vladimir Putin blamed on Chechen terrorists.
It solidified Putin’s power and popularity, and enable him to launch his own “war on terror” against the breakaway province of Chechnya.
But unlike with the 9/11 attacks on the United States two years later, there is strong circumstantial evidence that the explosions were a false flag carried out by Russian intelligence services.
David Satter, a former foreign correspondent in Moscow, summed up the evidence in a recent article in National Review.
The Chechens are a fierce Muslim warrior people whose homeland is in the Caucasus. They were conquered by the Russian Empire in 1859 and declared independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union broke up. The Russian Federation tried and failed to reconquer them in 1994-1996.
At the time of the explosions, Vladimir Putin, formerly head of the Russian Federal Security Services (FSB), had just become prime minister of Russia. He used the explosions as a justification for starting a new war, in which Chechnya was defeated and reincorporated into Russia.
There were four apartment bombings in all, in which a total of 300 people were killed. One was in an apartment building in Buinaksk in Dagestan in the Caucasus, two in apartment buildings in Moscow (9/9 and 9/13) and one in Volgodonsk in Rostov province to the south (9/16). All the explosions involved hundreds of pounds of an explosive called RDX.
Suspicious characters with traces of RDX on their persons were arrested in an apartment building in the southern Russian city of Ryazan. They turned out to be FSB agents. The FSB said they were conducting a training exercise.
The Russian Duma, in which Putin’s United Russia party held a majority, declined to investigate. But some dissident members formed an unofficial investigating commission.
They pointed out that Gennady Seleznev, the speaker of the Duma and a political ally of Putin, issued a statement to the press about the Volgodonsk bombings three days before they occurred.
They found that police interviewed the manager of one of the apartment buildings that was blown up, and got a description of a tenant who, it turned out, had false identity papers. They made a picture based on the description, but, a few days later, another picture was substituted, a picture of a man who looked entirely different.
Michael Trepashkin, a former FSB agent working with the commission, tracked down the original picture. He found that it resembled an FSB agent he personally knew, who had been responsible for investigating Chechen organized crime.
Sergei Yushenkob, a member of the commission, was shot to death in April, 2003, and another member, Yuri Shchekochikhin, was poisoned with thallium, three months later.
Michel Trepaskin were sentenced to four years hard labor for revealing state secrets. Under Russian law, Satter noted, “violations of law by state organs and officials” are considered state secrets.
Investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who questioned the official story, was shot to death outside her Moscow apartment in October, 2006, and dissident Alexander Livenko, was poisoned with radioactive polonium in London a month later.
I don’t believe in risking war with Russia just because Vladimir Putin is a ruthless autocrat. If that were a reason for war, half the world would be at war with the other half. But I don’t believe in ignoring inconvenient facts, either.
Russian apartment bombings on Wikipedia.
Vladimir Putin and 1999 Russian Apartment House Bombings – Was Putin Responsible? by David Satter in National Review.