Explanation attempts for the Russian apartment bombings

Explanation attempts for the Russian apartment bombings

Many different explanations have been given for the Russian apartment bombings.

The Russian apartment bombings were a series of explosions that hit apartment blocks in the Russian cities of Buynaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk in September 1999, killing nearly 300 people and spreading a wave of fear across the country. The bombings were blamed by the Russian government on rebels from the North Caucasus region and together with the Dagestan War, that took place in August 1999, lead to the military invasion of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The militants as well as the secessionist Chechen authorities denied their involvement in the bombing campaign.

State Duma deputies Sergei Kovalev, Yuri Shchekochikhin and Sergei Yushenkov, cast doubts on the official version and sought an independent investigation. Anti-Kremlin oligarch Boris Berezovsky (and his close associates Yury Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvinenko), David Satter, Boris Kagarlitsky, Vladimir Pribylovsky, Anna Politkovskaya, as well as the secessionist Chechen authorities and former popular Russian politician Alexander Lebed, claimed that the 1999 bombings were a false flag attack coordinated by the FSB in order to win public support for a new full-scale war in Chechnya. The war boosted Prime Minister and former FSB Director Vladimir Putin's popularity, and brought the pro-war Unity Party to the State Duma within a few months.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Gordon Bennett, Robert Bruce Ware, Paul J. Murphy, Henry Plater-Zyberk, Simon Saradzhyan, Nabi Abdullaev and Richard Sakwa criticized the conspiracy theories, pointing out the lack of evidence.[14][15][16][17][18][19]


Theory of warlords involvement

According to Paul J. Murphy, a former US counterterrorism official, the evidence that Al-Khattab was responsible for the apartment building bombings in Moscow is clear.[19] Murphy also asserts, that the findings by the Russian government prove, that the Liberation Army of Dagestan, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, is the same as Al-Khattab's Islamic Army of Dagestan, which launched the invasion of Dagestan from Chechnya in August, 1999.[19]

Professor Peter Reddaway and researcher Dmitri Glinski, have described the involvement of the Liberation Army of Dagestan as the most likely explanation for the bombings.[20]

According to Dr. Robert Bruce Ware, an associate professor of Southern Illinois University, the simplest, clearest explanation for the apartment block blasts is that they were perpetrated by Wahhabis from Dagestan and perhaps elsewhere in the region, under the leadership of Khattab, as retribution for the federal attacks on Karamachi, Chabanmakhi and Kadar. "If the blasts were organized by Khattab and other Wahhabis as retribution for the federal attacks on Dagestan's Islamic Djamaat, then this would explain the timing of the attacks, and why there were no attacks after the date on which fighting in Dagestan was concluded. It would explain why no Chechen claimed responsibility. It would account for Basayev's reference to Dagestani responsibility, and it would be consistent with Khattab's vow to set off 'bombs everywhere... blasting through their cities'."[16]

Warlords threats and responsibility claims

A Finnish journalist who in mid-August 1999, before the bombings, travelled to the village of Karamakhi in Dagestan, interviewed some villagers and their military Commander General Dzherollak. The journalist wrote: "The Wahhabis' trucks go all over Russia. Even one wrong move in Moscow or Makhachkala, they warn, will lead to bombs and bloodshed everywhere." According to the journalist the Wahhabis had told him, "if they start bombing us, we know where our bombs will explode."[21] In the last days of August, Russian military launched an aerial bombing of the villages.[21]

After first bombings, Moscow mayor Luzhkov asserted no warning had been given for the attacks[22] A previously unknown group protesting against growing consumerism in Russia claimed responsibility for the blast. A note was found at the site of the explosion from the group, calling itself the Revolutionary Writers, according to FSB.[23]

On September 2, Al-Khattab announced: "The mujahideen of Dagestan are going to carry out reprisals in various places across Russia.",[24] but Khattab would later on September 14 deny responsibility in the blasts, adding that he is fighting the Russian army, not women and children.[25]

On September 9, an anonymous person speaking with a Caucasian accent called the Interfax news agency, saying that the blasts in Moscow and Buynaksk were "our response to the bombings of civilians in the villages in Chechnya and Dagestan."[26][27] In an interview to the Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny on September 9, Shamil Basayev denied responsibility saying: "The latest blast in Moscow is not our work, but the work of the Dagestanis. Russia has been openly terrorizing Dagestan, it encircled three villages in the centre of Dagestan, did not allow women and children to leave."[28] A few days later Basayev denied that islamist fighters were responsible for the blasts, and instead were connected to "Russian domestic politics."[29] In a later interview Basayev said he had no idea who was behind the bombings. "Dagestani’s could have done it, or the Russian special services."[30]

During September 9–13, AP reporter Greg Myre conducted an interview with Ibn Al-Khattab, in which Al-Khattab as said, "From now on, we will not only fight against Russian fighter jets and tanks. From now on, they will get our bombs everywhere. Let Russia await our explosions blasting through their cities. I swear we will do it." The interview was published on September 15.[16][31] In a subsequent interview with Interfax, al-Khattab denied involvement in the bombings, saying "We would not like to be akin to those who kill sleeping civilians with bombs and shells."[16][32]

On September 15, an unidentified man, again speaking with a Caucasian accent, called the ITAR-TASS news agency, claiming to represent a group called the Liberation Army of Dagestan. He said, that the explosions in Buynaksk and Moscow were carried out by his organization.[26] According to him the attacks were a retaliation to the deaths of Muslim women and children during Russian air raids in Dagestan. "We will answer death with death," the caller said.[33] Russian officials from both the Interior Ministry and FSB at the time expressed skepticism over the claims.[29] Sergei Bogdanov of the FSB press service in Moscow said that the words of a previously unknown individual representing a semi-mythical organization should not be considered as reliable. Mr. Bogdanov insisted that the organization had nothing to do with the bombing.[34] On September 15, 1999 a Dagestani official also denied the existence of a "Dagestan Liberation Army".[35]

Vyacheslav Izmailov, an expert on Caucasus for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, said at the time that he had received a note from an informant on 10 planned attacks in Moscow, St. Petersburg and in the Rostov area.[36] According to Izmailov the informant indicated that the explosions were organized by two leaders of the Islamic insurgency in Dagestan, Shamil Basayev and Ibn Al-Khattab. But he said the attacks were carried out by Slavic mercenaries as well as Chechens, making it difficult to identify the terrorists.[36]

Theory of Russian government involvement

According to a theory that was put forward by anti-Kremlin oligarch Boris Berezovsky, Yuriy Felshtinsky, Alexander Litvinenko, American writer David Satter, political scientist Vladimir Pribylovsky, Russian Duma lawmaker Sergei Yushenkov, film maker Andrei Nekrasov, investigator Mikhail Trepashkin, the bombings were a successful coup d'état organized by the FSB to bring future Russian president Vladimir Putin to power. Some of them described the bombings as typical "active measures" practicised by the KGB in the past. David Satter stated during his testimony in the United States House of Representatives,

"With Yeltsin and his family facing possible criminal prosecution, however, a plan was put into motion to put in place a successor who would guarantee that Yeltsin and his family would be safe from prosecution and the criminal division of property in the country would not be subject to reexamination. For “Operation Successor” to succeed, however, it was necessary to have a massive provocation. In my view, this provocation was the bombing in September, 1999 of the apartment building bombings in Moscow, Buinaksk, and Volgodonsk. In the aftermath of these attacks, which claimed 300 lives, a new war was launched against Chechnya. Putin, the newly appointed prime minister who was put in charge of that war, achieved overnight popularity. Yeltsin resigned early. Putin was elected president and his first act was to guarantee Yeltsin immunity from prosecution."[37]

Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky wrote that the September 4 attack in Buynaksk was probably conducted by a sabotage unit of twelve Russian GRU officers who acted on the orders of Colonel-General Valentin Korabelnikov.[38][39] They referred to the testimony of GRU officer Aleksey Galkin. According to this version, all other attacks were organized by FSB forces based on the following chain of command: "Putin (former director of the secret service, future president) - Patrushev (Putin's successor as director of the secret service) - secret service General German Ugryumov (director of the counter-terrorism department)." FSB officers Vladimir Romanovich, Ramazan Dyshekov and others directly carried out the bombings. Several Chechens were recruited by FSB agents to deliver explosives disguised as bags of sugar to Volgodonsk and Moscow: Adam Dekkushev, Yusuf Krymshakhalov, and Timur Batchaev. The Chechens believed that apartment buildings were merely temporarily storage places, and that the explosives would be used against federal military targets. Ethnic Karachai Achemez Gochiyaev rented the apartment basements as storage spaces on request from the FSB agent Ramazan Dyshekov.[38]

Books and films

David Satter, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, authored a book Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State(Satter 2003) that scrutinized the paradoxes surrounding the bombings.[40]

In 2002 former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko and historian Yuri Felshtinsky published a book FSB vzryvaet Rossiyu (FSB is blowing up Russia). It was later translated into English under the title Blowing up Russia: Terror from within.(Felshtinsky & Litvinenko 2007) The book alleged that the bombings and other terrorist acts have been committed by Russian security services to justify the Second Chechen War and to bring Vladimir Putin to power. On December 29, 2003, Russian authorities confiscated over 4000 copies of the book en route to Moscow.[41] In a subsequent book, Lubyanka Criminal Group(Litvinenko 2002), Litvinenko and Alexander Goldfarb described the transformation of the FSB into a criminal and terrorist organization.

A documentary film Assassination of Russia was made in 2000 by two French producers who had previously worked on NTV's Sugar of Ryazan program.(Goldfarb & Litvinenko 2007, pp. 249–250) This film was broadcast by the main TV channels of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.[citation needed] Russian Deputy Yuli Rybakov brought a hundred copies to St. Petersburg but the copies were confiscated at customs in violation of his parliamentary immunity. No TV station in Russia was able to show the film.[42] Tens of thousands of pirate copies were sold in Russia in 2002.[citation needed] Sergei Yushenkov presented the film at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2002, decrying lack of civilian control over the Russian armed forces including the secret services.[43] A staffer in Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, "We just cannot go out and say that the president of Russia is a mass murderer. But it is important that we know it."(Goldfarb & Litvinenko 2007, p. 259)

A documentary Nedoverie ("Disbelief") about the bombing controversy made by Russian director Andrei Nekrasov was premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. The film chronicles the story of Tatyana and Alyona Morozova, the two Russian-American sisters, who had lost their mother in the attack, and decided to find out who did it.[44][45][46]

Alexander Goldfarb and Marina Litvinenko published a book Death of a Dissident.(Goldfarb & Litvinenko 2007) They asserted that the murder of Mr. Litvinenko was "the most compelling proof" of the FSB involvement theory. According to the book, the murder of Litvinenko "gave credence to all his previous theories, delivering justice for the tenants of the bombed apartment blocks, the Moscow theater-goers, Sergei Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, and Anna Politkovskaya, and the half-exterminated nation of Chechnya, exposing their killers for the whole world to see."(Goldfarb & Litvinenko 2007, p. 259)

The films Assassination of Russia and Disbelief were sponsored by a controversial self-exiled Russian tycoon and Putin ally-turned-enemy Boris Berezovsky.[47][48][49][50] Since 2001 co-author of the book Death of a Dissident Alexander Goldfarb is an executive director of International Foundation for Civil Liberties established by Mr. Berezovsky.[51][52]

Ph.D. Kirill Pankratov commented on the theory of Satter and Putley in the Johnson's Russia List: "these allegations are not new, and were kept afloat for a long time already, mostly by people close to Berezovsky and his money. I know it is very hard for people like David Satter and Jeremy Putley to understand, but I actually do believe there aren’t many people in Russia willing to purposefully kill hundreds of their own citizens for some political cause." In the letter Pankratov provided four reasons against that theory.[53]

The BBC Channel 4 programme Dispatches report Dying for the President, screened on March 9, 2000, and a subsequent article in The Observer also alleged that their journalists put Russian "secret police in [the] frame for Moscow atrocities".[54][55]

List of suspects per the conspiracy theory

According to the conspiracy theory, the following suspects have been involved[38]:

  • Future Russian president Vladimir Putin who was leading the chain of command according to the book by Felshinsky and Pribylovsky.
  • Director of Russian FSB agency Nikolai Patrushev
  • FSB General German Ugryumov who supervised the special forces Alpha and Vympel units at this time[56][57] (according to a confession of GRU officer Aleksey Galkin, made under torture)
  • Maxim Lazovsky, an FSB officer who was also involved in staging of bombings in Moscow in 1994.
  • Yusuf Krymshamkhalov and Adam Dekkushev, two official convicts who were hired by FSB agents provocateurs and who organized transportation of explosives to Moscow according to both versions
  • FSB officers Vladimir Romanovich and Ramazan Dyshenkov who carried out the apartment bombings in Moscow according to this version
  • Achemez Gochiyayev who rented basements of the bombed buildings under request from Dyshenkov and later reported about other mined buildings to police, according to his tape that Chechen middle men passed to Kovalev Commission
  • Three FSB agents (two men and a woman) who conducted the "training exercise" in the city of Ryazan. Their identities and fate remains unknown although their photos were advertised on Russian television.
  • A team of twelve GRU operatives who allegedly conducted bombings in the city of Buynaksk under general command of Leutenatnt General Kostechko (according to a confession of GRU officer Aleksey Galkin, made under torture)

Possibly related events and controversies

Prevented bombings

According to Oksana Yablokova of The Moscow Times, authorities said they defused explosives on Borisovskiye Prudy street in Moscow September 14, 1999.[58] Yuri Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvinenko added a site in the Liublino district and another in Kapotnya to the list of caches.[59] Satter wrote that three attempted bombings were prevented.[60]

Claims attributed to a fugitive suspect

In 2002 Prima News agency published a letter whose author claimed to be Achemez Gochiyaev, the suspect of the official investigation. The author of the letter claimed he called the police and warned about the bombing locations. He wrote that he was framed by his old acquaintance who asked him to rent basements "as storage facilities" at four locations where bombs were later found.[61]

On January 18, 2003 Yuri Felshtinsky provided Novaya Gazeta with a video recording and its transcript.[62] The video dated August 20, 2002 contained an interview with a man who claimed to be the fugitive suspect Achemez Gochiyayev. According to the statement, Mr Gochiyaev was an unknowing participant in a plot organized by an undercover FSB agent, his former acquaintance Ramazan Dyshekov. In 2005 Novaya Gazeta published another letter attributed to Mr Gochiyaev.[63]

Explosives controversies

It was initially reported by the FSB that the explosives used by the terrorists was RDX (or "hexogen"). However, it was officially declared later that the explosive was not RDX, but a mixture of aluminum powder, niter (saltpeter), sugar, and TNT prepared by the perpetrators in a concrete mixer at a fertilizer factory in Urus-Martan, Chechnya.[64][65]

Yuri Tkachenko, the police explosives expert who defused the Ryazan bomb, insisted that it was in fact RDX, in reply to an FSB report the chemical test was inaccurate due to contamination of the apparatus.[54][66] Mr. Tkachenko said that the explosives, including a timer, a power source, and a detonator were genuine military equipment and obviously prepared by a professional. He also said that the gas analyzer that tested the vapors coming from the sacks unmistakably indicated the presence of RDX. Mr. Tkachenko said that it was out of the question that the analyzer could have malfunctioned, as the gas analyzer was of world class quality, costing $20,000 and was maintained by a specialist who worked according to a strict schedule, checking the analyzer after each use and making frequent prophylactic checks. Mr Tkachenko pointed out that meticulous care in the handling of the gas analyzer was a necessity because the lives of the bomb squad experts depended on the reliability of their equipment. The police officers who answered the original call and discovered the bomb also insisted that it was obvious from its appearance that the substance in the bomb was not sugar.[67][68]

In March 2000, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported about a Private Alexei Pinyaev of the 137th Regiment who guarded a military facility near the city of Ryazan. He was surprised to see that "a storehouse with weapons and ammunition" contained sacks with the word "sugar" on them. The two paratroopers cut a hole in one of the bags and made a tea with the sugar taken from the bag. But the taste of tea was terrible. They became suspicious since people were talking about the explosions. The substance turned out to be RDX. After the newspaper report, FSB officers "descended on Pinyaev's unit", accused them of "divulging a state secret", and told them "You guys can't even imagine what serious business you've got yourselves tangled up in." The regiment later sued Novaya Gazeta for insulting the honor of the Russian Army, since there was no Private Alexei Pinyaev in the regiment, according to their statement.[69] After Russian troops entered Chechnya in October 1999, military officials said they had discovered a laboratory in the town of Urus-Martan, along with a large stockpile of explosive materials and training literature that they said appeared to be connected to several of the apartment building explosions.[70]

RDX is produced in only one factory in Russia, in the city of Perm,[67] although it might be also smuggled from suppliers outside of Russia[71] or stolen from munition storage facilities.[72][73][74] According to the book by Satter, FSB changed the story about the type of explosive, since it was difficult to explain how huge amounts of RDX disappeared from the closely guarded Perm facility. Former Russian government official Dzhabrail Gakayev said that RDX was readily available in Dagestan[75][76]

Answering a parliamentary request, the Russian Deputy Prosecutor declared in 2002 that a comprehensive testing of the samples showed no traces of any explosives, and that sacks from Ryazan in fact contained only sugar.[77]

In 2002 deputy of Russian Parliament Aleksandr Kulikov requested the General Prosecutor's Office on the results of investigation of criminal cases incited by facts of explosions of blocks of apartments in Moscow, Volgodonsk and discovering of explosive devices in Ryazan. The answer of Russian Deputy Prosecutor Vasiliy Kolmogorov was then published in Russian media.[77] According to it, express analysis of the discovered substance made by detectors "Exprei" и "М-02" showed controversial results. To resolve the controversy, three 3 kg samples were taken from the sacks and ignited at the testing area; in all cases no explosion followed. During the additional investigation ordered by the General Prosecutor's Office, an explosives examination showed that

"the sacks contained sucrosedisaccharide based on glucopyranose and fructofuranose. No traces of tertiary explosives (TNT, RDX, HMX, PETN, nitroglycerin, tetryl, picric acid) were found in the examined substance. Investigation of clocks, elements of power supply, shell, bulb and wires showed that although these items constituted a single electronic block, it wasn't capable of giving voltage when alarm of the timer was triggered and isn't a blasting device".

It was also noted that

"the mission in Ryazan was not properly planned and done, in particular the question of limits of carrying out this action was not properly specified, no provision was made for information sharing with representatives of local bodies or bodies of law and order about the training character of the implant in case it was discovered."


Incident in Russian Parliament

On September 13, just hours after the second explosion in Moscow, Russian Duma speaker Gennadiy Seleznyov of the Communist Party made a surprising announcement: "I have just received a report. According to information from Rostov-on-Don, an apartment building in the city of Volgodonsk was blown up last night".[78][79][80][81] However the bombing in Volgodonsk took place only three days later, on September 16. When the Volgodonsk bombing happened, Vladimir Zhirinovsky demanded an explanation in Duma, but Seleznev turned his microphone off.[78][82]

Two years later, in March 2002, Seleznyov claimed in an interview that he had been referring to an unrelated hand grenade-based explosion, which did not kill anyone and did not destroy any buildings, and which indeed happened in Volgodonsk.[83][84] It remains unclear why Seleznyov reported such an insignificant incident to the Russian Parliament and why he did not explain the misunderstanding to Zhirinovsky and other Duma members.[83]

FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko described this as a "the usual Kontora mess up": "Moscow-2 was on the 13th and Volgodonsk on 16th, but they got it to the speaker the other way around," he said. Investigator Mikhail Trepashkin confirmed that the man who gave Seleznev the note was indeed an FSB officer.[85]

Testimony by Alexey Galkin

In December 1999, journalist Robert Young Pelton interviewed senior lieutenant Aleksey Galkin, a GRU officer who was a prisoner of the Chechen rebels.[86] Galkin confessed that the bombing in Buynaksk was organized by a GRU team under the general command of the head of the 14th section of the Central Intelligence Office, Lt. Gen. Kostechko, and GRU director Valentin Korabelnikov.[87][88] Pelton describes the interview with Galkin in his book Three Worlds Gone Mad.[89]

Galkin escaped from captivity at the beginning of 2000. After his escape he stated that Chechen rebels had tortured him to force statements he made to Pelton. His claims have been supported by medical expertise.[38][86] Galkin did not tell anything at all about the alleged GRU involvement in the bombings during his interview to Novaya Gazeta,[86][87] thus he "did not deny" the GRU operation according to Felshtinsky and Pribylovsky.[38]

Sealing of all materials by Russian Duma

The Russian Duma rejected two motions for parliamentary investigation of the Ryazan incident.[90][91] The Duma, on a pro-Kremlin party line vote, voted to seal all materials related to the Ryazan incident for the next 75 years and forbade an investigation into what happened.

Arrest of independent investigator Trepashkin

The commission of Sergei Kovalev asked lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin to investigate the case. Trepashkin found that the basement of one of the bombed buildings was rented by FSB officer Vladimir Romanovich and that the latter was witnessed by several people. However Trepashkin was unable to bring the evidence to the court because he was arrested in October 2003, allegedly for "disclosing state secrets", just a few days shortly before he was to make his findings public.[92] He was sentenced by a military closed court to four years imprisonment.[93] Amnesty International issued a statement that "there are serious grounds to believe that Mikhail Trepashkin was arrested and convicted under falsified criminal charges which may be politically motivated, in order to prevent him continuing his investigative and legal work related to the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and other cities".[94] Romanovich subsequently died in a hit and run accident in Cyprus. According to Trepashkin, his supervisors and people from the FSB promised not to arrest him if he left the Kovalev commission and started working together with the FSB "against Alexander Litvinenko".[95] Commission chairman Kovalev summarized their findings as follows:[96] "What can I tell? We can prove only one thing: there was no any training exercise in the city of Ryazan. Authorities do not want to answer any questions..."

Criticism of the conspiracy theory


In 2000, Russia's President Vladimir Putin dismissed the allegations of FSB involvement in the bombings as "delirious nonsense." "There are no people in the Russian secret services who would be capable of such crime against their own people. The very allegation is immoral," he said.[97] An FSB spokesman said that "Litvinenko's evidence cannot be taken seriously by those who are investigating the bombings".[98]

Sergei Markov, an advisor to the Russian government, criticized the film Assassination of Russia which supported the FSB involvement theory. Markov said that the film was "a well-made professional example of the propagandist and psychological war that Boris Berezovsky is notoriously good at." Markov found parallels between the film and the conspiracy theory that the United States and/or Israel organized the 9/11 attacks to justify military actions.[99]


According to researcher Gordon Bennett, the conspiracy theory that FSB was behind explosions is kept alive by the Russian oligarch and Kremlin-critic Boris Berezovsky. Bennett points out, that neither Berezovsky nor his team (which includes Alexander Litvinenko) have provided any evidence to support their claims. In the BBC World Hard Talk interview on 8 May 2002, Berezovsky was also not able to present any evidence for his claims, and also did not suggest he was in possession of such evidence which he would be ready to present in a court.[15] Bennett also points out that it is occasionally forgotten by Putin's critics, that the decision to send troops to Chechnya was taken by Boris Yeltsin — not Vladimir Putin — with the wholehearted support of all power structures.[15]

Professor Richard Sakwa has commented on the claims of Berezovsky and Litvinenko, saying that the evidence they presented was at best circumstanstial.[14]

Dr Vlad Sobell has pointed out, that the proponents of the theory that the second invasion of Chechnya was a plot by Putin to get elected regularly ignore the key fact, that Putin's attack on Chechnya in 1999 was preceded by Chechen insurrection in Dagestan, whose objective was to turn it into another unstable Chechnya.[100]

According to Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Henry E. Hale of Harvard University, one thing that remains unclear about the "FSB did it" theory: If the motive was to get an FSB-friendly man installed as president, why would the FSB have preferred Putin, a little-known "upstart" who had leapt to the post of FSB director through outside political channels, to Primakov, who was certainly senior in stature and pedigree and who was also widely reputed to have a KGB past?[20]

According to Dr. Robert Bruce Ware of Southern Illinois University, "The assertions that Russian security services are responsible for the bombings is at least partially incorrect, and appears to have given rise to an obscurantist mythology of Russian culpability. At the very least, it is clear that these assertions are incomplete in so far as they have not taken full account of the evidence suggesting the responsibility of Wahhabis under the leadership of Khattab, who may have been seeking retribution for the federal assault upon Dagestan's Islamic Djamaat."[16]

Security and policy analysts Simon Saradzhyan and Nabi Abdullaev also point out, that Litvinenko and Felshtinsky have not provided any direct evidence to back up their claims about FSB involvement in the bombings.[101]

Support for the conspiracy theory

U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John McCain said that there remained "credible allegations that Russia's FSB had a hand in carrying out these [Moscow apartment bombing] attacks".[102][103] Popular Russian politician and retired army general Alexander Lebed, at the time the governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, asked if he thought the government had organized the terrorist attacks, said that he is "almost convinced of it."[104]

Some publications tell that "being prone to conspiracy theories, as Russians certainly are, doesn’t mean that someone is not conspiring against them".[55][105] The director of the Nixon Center Paul Saunders commented that Putin's willingness to shut down the Novaya Gazeta could be understood because "most dismiss the involvement of the Russian government in the apartment bombings as an unsupported conspiracy theory though it has received widespread attention".[106] British author and journalist Vanora Bennett said that although "it sounds far-fetched at first",

"remember that the FSB is simply the renamed KGB, whose raison d'etre for decades was essentially institutional terror in the service of the government. Putin is himself an ex-KGB man, and he has twice blocked, through the Duma, any independent investigation into the bombings. No evidence of Chechen involvement has ever been forthcoming, and the Chechen groups have claimed that they were not responsible — although they admit to other acts of violence. The Ryazan "training exercise" excuse is preposterous. It does seem to suggest that the Russian secret services were caught red-handed".[107]

Former KGB colonel Konstantin Preobrazhensky said that "Litvinenko's accusations are not unfounded. Chechen rebels were incapable of organising a series of bombings without help from high-ranking Moscow officials."[98]

GRU defector and author Viktor Suvorov said that the Litvinenko's book Lubyanka Criminal Group describes "a leading criminal group that provides "protection" for all other organized crime in the country and which continues the criminal war against their own people", like their predecessors NKVD and KGB. He added:

"The book proves: Lubyanka [the KGB headquarters] was taken over by enemies of the people. (Is it possible to call them friends of people, them who put their own people on the needle and blow up sleeping children?). If Putin's team can not disprove the facts provided by Litvinenko, Putin must shoot himself. Patrushev and all other leadership of Lubyanka Criminal Group must follow his example."[108]

Neutral stance

A summary of a conference at Princeton University concluded that although "the Russian leadership has exploited the tragedy of the bombings for political purposes", there is no convincing proof of any version, including the "Chechen guilt" or "the 'conspiracy theory' that ties responsibility to the Russian FSB (the successor to the KGB)."[109]

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer noted: "The FSB accused Khattab and Gochiyaev, but oddly they did not point the finger at Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov's regime, which is what the war was launched against."[98]

In his book Inside Putin's Russia Andrew Jack, former Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, mentions several aspects in favor and against the conspiracy theory[110]

Theory of CIA involvement

According to one of the convicts of the bombings, Adam Dekkushev, it wasn't the FSB that ordered the bombing, as Berezovsky claimed, but the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[19]


  1. ^ Boris Kagarlitsky, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Comparative Politics, writing in the weekly Novaya Gazeta, says that the bombings in Moscow and elsewhere were arranged by the GRU
  2. ^ David Satter - House committee on Foreign Affairs
  3. ^ Satter 2003, pp. 24–33, 63–71
  4. ^ Felshtinsky & Pribylovsky 2008, pp. 105–111
  5. ^ Video on YouTubeIn Memoriam Aleksander Litvinenko, Jos de Putter, Tegenlicht documentary VPRO 2007, Moscow, 2004 Interview with Anna Politkovskaya
  6. ^ Russian Federation: Amnesty International's concerns and recommendations in the case of Mikhail Trepashkin - Amnesty International
  7. ^ (Russian) Litvinenko's details on apartment bombings in Moscow, an interview with Sergei Kovalev, radio Echo of Moscow, July 25, 2002, computer translation
  8. ^ Bomb Blamed in Fatal Moscow Apartment Blast, Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1999
  9. ^ At least 90 dead in Moscow apartment blast, from staff and wire reports, CNN, September 10, 1999
  10. ^ Evangelista 2002, p. 81
  11. ^ Did Putin's Agents Plant the Bombs?, Jamie Dettmer, Insight on the News, April 17, 2000.
  12. ^ ’’The consolidation of Dictatorship in Russia’’ by Joel M. Ostrow, Georgil Satarov, irina Khakamada p.96
  14. ^ a b Sakwa 2008, pp. 333–334
  15. ^ a b c Vladimir Putin & Russia's Special Services Gordon Bennet, 2002
  16. ^ a b c d e Sakwa 2005
  17. ^ The UK & Russia - A Troubled Relationship Part I
  18. ^ http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=19795
  19. ^ a b c d Murphy 2004, p. 106
  20. ^ a b Origins of United Russia and the Putin Presidency: The Role of Contingency in Party-System Development
  21. ^ a b Reddaway 2001, pp. 615–616
  22. ^ Blast rocks Moscow, BBC News, September 1, 1999
  23. ^ Media mystified by mall blast
  24. ^ Ethnic War, Holy War, War O' War: Does the Adjective Matter in Explaining Collective Political Violence?, Edward W. Walker, University of California, Berkeley, February 1, 2006
  25. ^ Chechen president advocates joint action with Russia against terrorism, Newsline, RFERL, September 15, 1999
  26. ^ a b Dr Mark Smith, A Russian Chronology July 1999 - September 1999
  27. ^ (Russian) The explosion of an apartment house in Moscow put an end to calm in the capital, A. Novoselskaya, S. Nikitina, M. Bronzova, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 10, 1999 (computer translation)
  28. ^ Russia's bombs: Who is to blame?
  29. ^ a b AUTUMN 1999 TERRORIST BOMBINGS HAVE A MURKY HISTORY, Monitor, Volume 8, Issue 27, Jamestown Foundation, February 7, 2002
  30. ^ Rebel Chief, Denying Terror, Fights to 'Free' Chechnya, Carlotta Gall, The New York Times, October 16, 1999
  31. ^ Al-Khattab: From Afghanistan to Dagestan, Reuven Paz, International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, September 20, 1999
  32. ^ Warlord Becoming Most Feared Man In Russia, Greg Myre, The AP, September 15, 1999
  33. ^ Russia caught in sect's web of terror
  34. ^ ’’Islam in Russia’’ by Shireen Hunter, Jeffrey L. Thomas, Alexander Melikishvili, J. Collins. P.91
  35. ^ Russia: Dagestani official denies existence of Dagestan Liberation Army
  37. ^ Satter House Testimony, 2007.
  38. ^ a b c d e Felshtinsky & Pribylovsky 2008, pp. 105–111
  39. ^ "Our group prepared diversions in Chechnya and Dagestan", Testimony of Senior Lieutenant Alexei Galkin, November 1999.
  40. ^ The Shadow of Ryazan: Is Putin’s government legitimate?, National Review Online, April 30, 2002
  41. ^ Russian editor questioned over seizure of controversial book
  42. ^ Felshtinsky & Pribylovsky 2008, pp. 249–250
  43. ^ "Assassination of Russia"- Film Screening and Panel Discussion, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, April 24, 2002
  44. ^ Screening Horror; A new film seeks the truth behind the 1999 bombings., The Moscow Times]
  45. ^ Disbelief. The record in IMDb.
  46. ^ Disbelief - 1999 Russia Bombings Google Video
  47. ^ All roads lead back to Berezovsky, Nicholas Blincoe, The Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2007
  48. ^ Screening Horror: A new film seeks the truth behind the 1999 bombings, By Greg Walters, The Moscow Times, September 3, 2004
  49. ^ Boris Berezovsky organized "Assassination of Russia"
  50. ^ 'Orange Plague' Kills Concert
  51. ^ Berezovsky threatens to open Pandora's box created by fugitive Ukrainian bodyguard, Oleg Varfolomeyev, April 4, 2005, based on a number of stories in Ukrainian media
  52. ^ The Litvinenko Case
  53. ^ Re: 7727 #11, Jeremy Putley's review of "Darkness at Dawn" by D. Satter
  54. ^ a b Britain's Observer newspaper suggests Russian secret service involvement in Moscow bombings, Julie Hyland, World Socialist Web Site, 15 March 2000
  55. ^ a b Johann Hari, Conspiracy theories: a guide, New Statesman, http://www.newstatesman.com/200212160014, retrieved 2008-01-28 
  56. ^ Адмирал ФСБ - Дух воинский - Православное воинство - РУССКОЕ ВОСКРЕСЕНИЕ; ?>
  57. ^ Johnson's Russia List #5054 - January 27, 2001
  58. ^ Ex-Agent Presents Pieces of a Puzzle, Oksana Yablokova, The Moscow Times, 2002-07-26
  59. ^ Felshtinsky & Litvinenko 2007, chapter 6
  60. ^ Satter 2003, pp. 24–33 and 63–71
  61. ^ Achemez Gochiyaev: I’ve been framed up by a FSB agent by Prima News, July 25, 2002
  62. ^ (Russian)ГЕКСОГЕНОВЫЙ СЛЕД — 4, Novaya Gazeta, March 3, 2003 (computer translation)
  63. ^ (Russian)Я Хочу Рассказать О Взрывах Жилых Домов, Novaya Gazeta No. 18, March 14, 2005 (computer translation)
  64. ^ Only one explosions suspect still free, Kommersant, December 10, 2002.
  65. ^ (Russian) Two life sentences for 246 murders, Kommersant, January 13, 2004. (Russian:"в бетономешалке изготовила смесь из сахара, селитры и алюминиевой пудры"
  66. ^ Take care Tony, that man has blood on his hands, John Sweeney, Observer, March 12, 2000
  67. ^ a b Satter 2003, pp. 24–33 and 63–71
  68. ^ " The Shadow of Ryazan: Is Putin's government legitimate?", David Satter, National Review, April 30, 2002.
  69. ^ Felshtinsky & Pribylovsky 2008, pp. 127–129
  70. ^ 6 Convicted in Russia Bombing That Killed 68, Patrick E. Tyler, The New York Times, March 20, 2001
  71. ^ Tamil Guerrillas in Sri Lanka: Deadly and Armed to the Teeth, Raymond Bonner, The New York Times, March 7, 1998
  72. ^ (Russian) Специалист по утилизации взрывчатки похитил 11 килограммов гексогена, MVD, 19.07.2003
  73. ^ (Russian) Завод Пластмасс
  74. ^ (Russian) Борис Березовский нашел тонну гексогена, Gazeta, March 5, 2002
  75. ^ Sakwa 2005, p. 95
  76. ^ C.W. Blandy p. 42
  77. ^ a b c (Russian)The answer of the General Prosecutor's office to the State Duma deputy request, Prosecutor General of Russian Federation, 2002 (computer translation)
  78. ^ a b "Death of a Dissident", page 265
  79. ^ HAUNTING YUSHENKOV LECTURE BROADCAST, The Jamestown Foundation, June 12, 2003
  80. ^ CDI
  81. ^ (Russian) Геннадия Селезнева предупредили о взрыве в Волгодонске за три дня до теракта ("Gennadiy Seleznyov was warned of the Volgodonsk explosion three days in advance"), NewsRu.com, 21 March 2002
  82. ^ Vladimir Zhirinovsky said in Russian Duma: "Remember Gennadiy Nikolaevich how you told us that a house has been blown up in Volgodonsk, three days prior to the blast? How should we interpret this? The State Duma knows that the house was destroyed on Monday, and it has indeed been blown up on Thursday [same week]... How come... the state authorities of Rostov region were not warned in advance [about the future bombing], although it was reported to us? Everyone is sleeping, the house was destroyed three days later, and now we must take urgent measures..." [Seleznev turned his microphone off].[1]
  83. ^ a b "Darkness at Dawn", page 269.
  84. ^ (Russian) Reply of the Public Prosecutor Office of the Russian Federation to a deputy inquiry
  85. ^ "Death of a Dissident", page 266
  86. ^ a b c (Russian) The first voluntary interview of Alexey Galkin, comments by journalist Roman Shleinov and conclusion of psychologist Michail Istomin, Novaya Gazeta, December 2, 2002
  87. ^ a b (Russian) Our group prepared diversions in Chechnya and Dagestan. Testimony of senior lieutenant Alexey Galkin, Novaya Gazeta N 89, December 2, 2002
  88. ^ (Russian) The Operation "Successor" by Vladimir Pribylovsky and Yuriy Felshtinsky.
  89. ^ Robert Young Pelton Three Worlds Gone Mad: Dangerous Journeys through the War Zones of Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific, The Lyons Press; (2003), ISBN 1-592-28100-1
  90. ^ Duma Rejects Move to Probe Ryazan Apartment Bomb, Terror-99, 21 March 2000
  91. ^ Duma Vote Kills Query On Ryazan, The Moscow Times, 4 April 2000
  92. ^ For Trepashkin, Bomb Trail Leads to Jail, The Moscow Times, January 14, 2004
  93. ^ Russian Ex-Agent's Sentencing Called Political Investigator was about to release a report on 1999 bombings when he was arrested, The Los Angeles Times, 20/05/2004
  94. ^ Russian Federation: Amnesty International calls for Mikhail Trepashkin to be released pending a full review of his case
  95. ^ (Russian) Interview with Mikhail Trepashkin, RFE/RL, December 1, 2007. "давай вместе работать против Литвиненко и уйди из комиссии по взрывам домов и тогда тебя никто не тронет. Я говорил со своими шефами, совершенно точно, тебя не тронут. Кончай с Ковалевым Сергеем Адамовичем контактировать в Госдуме и так далее."
  96. ^ (Russian) The bombing case. Victims ask the president to resume the investigation (Russian), RFE/RL, June 2, 2008
  97. ^ Russia charges bombing suspects
  98. ^ a b c Olga Nedbayeva, Conspiracy theories on Russia's 1999 bombings gain ground, Agence France-Presse, http://eng.terror99.ru/publications/072.htm 
  99. ^ "Assassination of Russia"- Film Screening and Panel Discussion, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, April 24, 2002.
  100. ^ Vlad Sobell on 'confusing Russia'
  101. ^ Disruption Escalation of Terror in Russia to Prevent Catashtrophic Attacks
  102. ^ McCain Decries, November 4, 2003, Friends of John McCain.
  103. ^ Articles on Russia & Chechnya
  104. ^ The Security Organs of the Russian Federation (Part III) by Jonathan Littell
  105. ^ Steven Lee Myers (December 3, 2006), The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/03/weekinreview/03myers.html, retrieved 2008-01-28 
  106. ^ Paul J. Saunders (2000-05-09), Russian Villain or Hero?, The Washington Times, http://www.nixoncenter.org/publications/articles/5_09_00Russia.htm, retrieved 2008-01-29 
  107. ^ Bennett, Vanora (May 13, 2007). "From Russia with secrets". London: Times Online. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,18389-1610952,00.html. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  108. ^ Why United States have no "external intelligence", by Victor Suvorov
  109. ^ (PDF) The Crisis In Chechnya: Causes, Prospects, Solutions, Princeton University, http://www.princeton.edu/~lisd/projects/archives/russia/Summary_Chechnya_2000.pdf, retrieved 2008-01-28 
  110. ^ Jack 2005


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