This Date's Issues: 4397 •
Johnson's Russia List
12 July 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Sleuths seize documents at Russian media empire.
2. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Analysts Say Putin May Be Overreaching.
3. Moscow Times: Yulia Latynina, Murder of Uralmash Boss Was Different.
4. Segodnya: WE HAVE THE CONCEPT. BUT HOW CAN IT BE IMPLEMENTED?
Segodnya correspondents Valery SYCHEV and Avtandil TSULADZE asked
Russian experts to comment on the new foreign policy concept.
5. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Russia takes advertising
to the final frontier. (space)
6. gazeta.ru: NATO Enters the Chechen War.
7. Galina Ackerman interviews the French philosopher André
Glucksmann about his trip to Chechnya and Daghestan.
8. BBC MONITORING: WEB SITE COMMENTS ON BOMBINGS IN RUSSIA'S
Sleuths seize documents at Russian media empire
MOSCOW, July 11 (AFP) -
State investigators seized hundreds of documents Tuesday at Media-Most, the
independent media empire of magnate Vladimir Gusinky, who was temporarily
detained last month on embezzlement charges.
Gusinsky's detention provoked fears that President Vladimir Putin was
cracking down on press freedom. Gusinsky is being investigated in connection
with allegations of a 10-million dollar swindle in a privatisation scandal.
Media-Most said investigators of the FSB, successor to the KGB, and the state
attorney's department had spent 10 hours searching files at the company
"The investigators took away all sorts of documents from financial statements
for the last three years to a shareholder list, via minutes of directors'
meetings," said Elena Bruni of Media-Most's public relations department.
The investigating team, who arrived at the offices early Tuesday, were
particularly interested in links between the group and the gas giant Gazprom,
a shareholder and major creditor of Media-Most, Bruni said.
Meanwhile police also raided the Gazprom offices. Analysts say Gazprom has
been under heavy Kremlin pressure to call in its loans, thus breaking the
media company's back.
"They're carrying on a war of nerves," the Media-Most spokeswoman said.
Gusinsky is accused of having swindled the government out of 10 million
dollars when he acquired a small Saint Petersburg television station in 1997.
The investigators said they were seizing the documents Tuesday in connection
with the 1997 privatisation of a company called Russkoe Video.
"The matter's a dead letter but the state attorney's department is trying to
please Putin and using it as a pretext to harass us while it still isn't
closed," Bruni said.
On the Gazprom connection, the spokeswoman denied that there was any conflict
between the two companies.
"Gazprom has made no charges to the state attorney's department so we don't
see how it is involved," she said.
Gusinsky's Media-MOST empire has been a thorn in the flesh of Putin's new
administration, constantly criticising the eight-month war in Chechnya and
flagging corruption in the security service the president once ran.
Tax police also raided some of Russia's largest energy giants Tuesday in a
new wave of searches that followed Putin's vow to end privileges for the
country's business elite.
Police also launched a probe Tuesday into Russia's biggest oil firm LUKoil
after accusing it of falsifying tax refunds.
Political observers and market watchers said the tax crackdown amounted to
one of the most serious attacks on vested -- and, according to most, shady --
business interests in Russia's post-Soviet history.
Russia: Analysts Say Putin May Be Overreaching
By Sophie Lambroschini
Russian President Vladimir Putin's quick rise through the ranks of the
political establishment and his background in the security services led many
observers to expect strong leadership. Upon his election in March, Putin's
oratory did not disappoint. He vowed to do battle with Russia's rich and
often corrupt business tycoons -- known as oligarchs -- and anyone else who
stood in his way. But analysts now wonder whether Putin has not blundered by
launching attacks on so many fronts. RFE/RL correspondent Sophie Lambroschini
reports from Moscow.
Moscow, 11 July 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Russian law-enforcement authorities moved
once again today against media and private business interests.
Agents of the Federal Security Service, the FSB, today raided the offices of
the Media-MOST group for the second time, seizing financial documents. Also
today, the office of the prosecutor-general accused oil giant LUKoil of
cheating on its taxes. At the same time, the prosecutor-general demanded $140
million from Norilsk Nickel, saying the company owes the government
compensation for a fraudulently conducted privatization.
Denis Rodionov, an analyst at Brunswick-Warburg, told RFE/RL that these
frontal attacks against the oligarchs are worrisome because the strategy
behind them is unclear. In his words: "There's a big attack against oligarchs
going on, but it's taking place in a strange way. First of all, the oligarchs
who were attacked are not those that investors link with the most violations
in privatization schemes. On the contrary, the attacks are coming against
those who manage their capital and companies best."
Business observers also note that the government's attacks bypassed some of
the tycoons said to be most influential in the Kremlin, such as Roman
Abramovich, head of the oil company Sibneft. This is spurring accusations
that some of the oligarchs are trying to confiscate their rivals' industrial
jewels for themselves -- using Putin as their puppet.
Putin's head-on conflict with Russia's tycoons has not been his only
confrontation. The Russian president has also thrown himself into an open
struggle with Russia's regional governors over his plan to consolidate
central authority at the expense of the regions.
Yesterday (Monday), the upper house of parliament or Federation Council --
where the governors sit -- rejected for the second time the Kremlin's draft
laws on the issue.
Instead of heading for the G-8 summit in Okinawa two weeks from now (eds:
July 21-23) with an already adopted state reform program, as he had hoped,
Putin will be trying to hammer out a compromise over the summer.
Mikhail Delyagin, head of the Moscow-based Institute for Geopolitical
Studies, says that in choosing blunt force over compromise, Putin has exposed
his weaknesses and is already eroding his support. As Delyagin puts it, "He
managed to get mixed up in many conflicts simultaneously, and with almost all
of the influential groups in Russia. In such conflicting conditions even the
absolute support of the population that he still has may not help him,
because he appears to be not very skilled as a political manager."
Delyagin is not alone in his assessment. This week's lead editorial in the
"Kommersant" weekly business magazine is titled: "The Weakness of the Firm
Hand." The editorial reflects the growing doubts about whether Putin is
wielding his much-touted "toughness" intelligently. According to
"Kommersant," Putin has already lost his "aura of invincibility."
Delyagin points out that Putin's frequent policy reversals, which often begin
with fist-banging rigor and, when that fails, segue into negotiations, slow
down the reform process and undermine the president's credibility.
New centers of opposition could be the result. Already, oligarch Boris
Berezovsky, who claims to have masterminded the victory of Putin's Unity
party in Duma elections, announced that he would create an opposition party
of regional heads.
Last month, 17 of Russia's most powerful business leaders, reacting to the
arrest of Media-MOST chairman Vladimir Gusinsky, warned Putin in a letter
about the negative signal such moves send to the business community in Russia
In Delyagin's opinion, Putin is not quite the ruthless Pinochet his
democratic opponents have made him out to be. "He reminds me more of [Soviet
leader Mikhail] Gorbachev," notes Delyagin. Gorbachev frittered away much of
his political influence by switching from his revolutionary policy of
glasnost to the bloody repression of protesters in Tbilisi and Vilnius, under
the influence of conservatives.
In the end, Gorbachev aliented both conservatives and liberals -- but most of
all, he alienated the Russian people, on whose support he hoped to depend.
Putin risks doing the same.
July 12, 2000
INSIDE RUSSIA: Murder of Uralmash Boss Was Different
By Yulia Latynina
Oleg Belonenko, general director of the Urals factory Uralmash, was murdered
Monday. The murder was senseless, given that the real owner of Uralmash is
the prominent businessman Kakha Bendukidze, and Belonenko made no independent
Since half of Russia's industrial scandals take place in the Sverdlovsk
region, I have frequently been in Yekaterinburg and met with various people,
including those who drive around with dozens of armed guards. Oleg Belonenko
went around without guards and rode his bicycle each morning.
Many people have been murdered in the Urals. Just the last three months have
seen the murder of Vladimir Klementyev, the karate champion of Europe (he was
called one of the leaders of the "Central" criminal group); the suicide of
Alexander Kruk, one of the leaders of the Uralmash Public and Political
Union, or Uralmash OPS; the attack on Pavel Fedulev, the vodka king of the
Urals. Fedulev, who recently left prison after doing time for fraud, was
trying to reassert control over his factories, which he lost during his
These murders and assaults will probably never be solved officially. Yet
everyone in Yekaterinburg knows who had reason to shoot Fedulev (a long list)
and which business failures prompted Kruk (who was responsible for the
Uralmash OPS's economic projects) to drink nonstop for a month and then tie a
rope around his own neck.
Belonenko's death was different, and the theories about the criminal ties of
the factory and its director are absurd to anyone who knows the region.
Contrary to the rumors, the Uralmash OPS (widely described as an organized
crime front) and the Uralmash factory share nothing except geography. The
Ordonikidsevsky region, located near Uralmash on the outskirts of
Yekaterinburg, is where the Uralmash OPS leaders f Grigory and Konstantin
Tsyganov, Alexander Khabarov, Sergei Vorobyov, Igor Novozhilov f were born.
These men formed one of Russia's bloodiest and most cohesive criminal groups.
It was perhaps the only such group that did not have internal strife, and it
took care of its fallen members' widows. The Uralmash OPS's business included
vodka, retail trade, control over markets, prostitution and trade in
nonferrous metals. The Uralmash factory was too unprofitable to interest the
Indeed, the shares of a majority of the Urals' factories changed hands with
the help of gunfire, fraud and blackmail. Every share packet of the Kachkanar
Vanadium Mining Complex seems to have been seized by investigators and
claimed by two or three different owners. Only the Uralmash factory is
absolutely clean in terms of its stockholders' capital, which explains why it
Belonenko's murder was not advantageous either to the region's prominent
criminal groups, which are striving for legalization, or to its prominent
financial groups, who could not use the murder to influence the fate of
"dirty" share packets.
Which leads to a sad conclusion. Either Belonenko's murder was completely by
chance (for example, he loaned someone $10,000 and was killed for it). Or, on
the contrary, its real target was the financial or criminal structure that
will be blamed for this insolent murder, carried out just on the eve of
President Vladimir Putin's trip to the region.
Yulia Latynina writes for Sovershenno Sekretno.
July 11, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
WE HAVE THE CONCEPT. BUT HOW CAN IT BE IMPLEMENTED?
Segodnya correspondents Valery SYCHEV and Avtandil
TSULADZE asked Russian experts to comment on the new foreign
Vyacheslav NIKONOV, President of the Politika Foundation:
On the one hand, the concept of a multipolar world is
fighting windmills. On the other hand, it spotlighted our
weakness. It is designed to point to the existence of several
poles in the world, rather than one superpower. At the same
time, it is clear that the USA is not the only player on the
international scene, that there are other power centres, such
as Western Europe, Japan and China.
The trouble is that Russia is losing its importance as one
of such poles. This concept is not productive from the
political viewpoint. First, it is openly anti-American. I don't
know why such a stress should be put on existing
contradictions. And second, being pro-Chinese, the concept
gives Russia a secondary role.
Besides, the concept points out that Russia is a weakening
centre of global politics. I think the implementation of this
concept will be connected with a major squandering of political
forces and resources in the struggle against a partially false
Sergei KARAGANOV, Chairman of the Council of Foreign and
It is apparent to me that the new concept differs from the
concepts we had two or three months ago. The difference lies
above all in evaluations. The former concept, although it was
more traditionalist, had never been published, as far as I know.
The new concept is largely designed to ensure support for the
Russian economy, Russian business, private investments into the
economy, and the like. It is more economically directed.
As for the idea of the multipolar world and Russia's
support for this idea in international politics, it is not
clear how this will be done. I think that the point at issue is
the preservation of continuity in terminology.
It is important that the concept rather clearly outlines
the priorities of Russia's regional policy. Europe is given the
second place, and the idea of rapprochement with the EU is
given considerable attention. However, the concept has not set
the task of deep integration. At the same time, this is a major
The USA stands the third in the list of priorities. The
document has a very interesting phrase about Japan. The
suggested wording gives Russia a chance to act very flexibly in
relations with the Far Eastern states.
This is a concept of transition from more traditionalist
documents of the past to more modern concepts. Of course, it
still has the logical remnants of traditionalism, the more so
that the foreign ministry should remain a relatively
conservative organisation. However, the new concept is much
more realistic and modern than the 1993 concept, let alone
previous Soviet concepts, which were strangely optimistic or
Of course, the concept cannot replace real policy. It can
only set the parameters of developing this policy. It can be
criticised for the fact that many things were not included into
it. But it is only one of the texts, which should outline the
foreign policy strategy of the country. In principle, such
concepts should include packages of foreign policy directives,
which should be the guideline for all agencies of the country.
As far as I know, we do not usually devise such regional or
functional foreign policy directives. On the whole, the
document is more balanced and economically directed than the
Alexander PIKAYEV, expert of the Carnegie Foundation:
If the transition from global claims, for which the Soviet
Union was noted, to a new foreign policy of Russia, which is a
country with much more limited possibilities, is crowned with
the approval of this concept, it should be evaluated
It is another matter that the approval of the concept does
not mean that it will be implemented. The West has learned to
accept the fact that Russia's words are not always backed by
deeds. And hence the Russian policy will be evaluated by its
actions, rather than documents.
It is interesting that Igor Ivanov did not use the term
"multipolar world," but mentioned "a universal system of
cooperation." This means that unlike its military doctrine and
national security concept, the foreign policy concept of Russia
took into consideration the recent improvement in Russia-West
relations and the latest initiatives voiced by Putin, in
particular on the creation of a joint ABM system. Despite some
clumsy steps, the Putin administration signaled to the West
that it was ready to cooperation, to move very far towards the
The stability of this policy will depend on two things.
The first is the domestic situation. It would be naive to think
that one can pursue a pro-Western foreign policy and an
anti-democratic domestic policy. If the trend for
authoritarianism is not stemmed, the doors to the West will be
closed to Russia.
The second is the reaction of the West. It will be
partially determined by the situation in Russia and the
development of the situation in the Western countries. The USA
withdrew from the game this year owing to the presidential
elections. Foreign policy interests it inasmuch as it can
facilitate or hinder the victory of candidates. Europeans
proved unable to play the leading role in the Western policy.
Russo-Japanese relations are the only sphere where changes are
On the whole, a large part of Russian doctrinal documents
is created for a specific structure. The national security
concept sealed the leading role of the Security Council in
implementing this concept. The military doctrine sealed the
leading role of the Defence Ministry in the military
development of Russia. The foreign policy concept sealed the
key role of the Foreign Ministry in implementing Russia's
foreign policy. It is the third most important document after
the national security concept and the military doctrine. These
three documents determined the role of the three key
departments in the foreign and defence policy of the country.
Christian Science Monitor
12 July 2000
Russia takes advertising to the final frontier
By Fred Weir
The Russian-built Zvezda ("star") space module, scheduled to blast off for
the International Space Station early this morning, has been the butt of
endless mutterings over its two-year delay and billions in cost overruns.
But a potentially more controversial issue, which hit the eye as the ship was
unveiled yesterday at the Baikonur cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan, is
the 30-foot high Pizza Hut logo stamped on its booster rocket - right where
one might more readily expect a hammer and sickle.
The ex-Soviet space program, originally designed to bury capitalism, is fast
becoming Russia's most visible shop window.
Four years ago, PepsiCo Inc. paid the cash-strapped Russians $5 million to
inflate a huge replica of a soda can outside the Mir space station. Russia's
Space Agency reportedly is negotiating a $400,000 deal with the Italian
fashion house of Donatella Versace to design preflight uniforms, training
suits, and lounge wear for future Russian cosmonauts. Of course, the gear
would all have the Versace label prominently displayed.
"Advertising is the way to finance everything these days, why should space be
different?" asks Sergei Zhiltsov, spokesman for MPO Proton, makers of the
booster rocket. "Hopefully, this will become a major source of funding for
our industry. The state can no longer afford to pay, and probably it
shouldn't have to anyway."
The aging Mir space station, lofted by the Soviet Union in 1986, has already
gone commercial. Earlier this year the Russian Space Agency closed a $100
million deal with the Netherlands-based MirCorp to develop the station as a
high-end tourist resort. Last month, the company announced the first cosmic
guest: US businessman Dennis Tito is already training in Star City, near
Moscow, for a trip to the orbiting hotel sometime in 2001. Mr. Tito is
reportedly paying $20 million for the ultimate getaway vacation.
Pizza Hut, by contrast, reportedly paid about $1 million for the Zvezda ad
(less than half the cost of the average 30-second Super Bowl spot). The logo
dominates the 200-foot Proton rocket and will be seen by a vast audience on
TV newsclips and Internet coverage of the July 12 launch. "This is one small
step for mankind, but a giant leap for our Pizza Hut turnaround," says a
company press release. The international restaurant chain is in the midst of
a $500 million campaign to update its image.
The firm is also guaranteeing delivery for the "first pizza party in space"
when three astronauts visit the space station later this year.
The 24-ton Zvezda module, Russia's contribution to the 16-country
International Space Station, is meant to be the living quarters and
laboratory for teams of astronauts who will rotate through the station in
years to come.
Due to Russia's perpetual cash crunch, and the crashes of two other Proton
rockets, the project is at least two years behind schedule. The delays have
inflicted some $3 billion in extra costs on its partners, or about 5 percent
of the total $60 billion space station budget.
"Russia has had great difficulty fulfilling its obligations to the
international space station project, and that's why we've had to turn to
novel forms of fundraising," says Gennady Savasteyev, deputy head of the
Russian parliament's space commission. "We are opening up an area that was
previously closed to business. Space is becoming just another market. We hope
this Pizza Hut deal is just the beginning."
Not everyone is so enthusiastic. The Moscow business daily Kommersant alleged
last week that barely 15 percent of the money from the Pizza Hut promotion
actually reached the people who build and operate space equipment. The
remainder was siphoned off by the US and Russian advertising firms that set
up the deal, the paper said. The Russian Space Agency declined comment.
"The commercialization of the space program is a moral disaster for Russia,"
says Andrei Vaganov, science editor of the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "This
is a national project, sponsored by the Russian people, which is being turned
into an opportunity for money-grubbing by unscrupulous people."
Ironically, even Russia's former cold war adversaries in the capitalist camp
are looking somewhat askance at the spectacle of a giant Pizza Hut billboard
headed skyward. "We have our own commercialization plan at NASA," says Carlos
Fontanot, spokesman for the US space agency's Moscow office. "But we wouldn't
do it the way the Russians are headed."
A Coca-Cola logo on a space shuttle, perhaps? "No, never," he says firmly.
July 11, 2000
NATO Enters the Chechen War
Sunday’s explosion in Vladikavkaz and rebel threats to storm Gudermes and
Grozny are different links in a single chain. According to a sensational
announcement by the Russian military on Monday, the general staff of a NATO
country are involved in these events. NATO is helping Maskhadov to work out
tactical plans for terrorist operations in Chechnya.
ITAR-Tass Agency learned from an unnamed military sources, the explosion at
the central market Vladikavkaz on Sunday and the threat to storm Chechen
towns is intended to distract the attention of the Russian military from a
planned break-through from Georgia into Chechnya by a large rebel
detachment, currently in the Pankis Gorge. Some reports say the detachment
numbers 1.5 thousand men and is believed consist largely of mercenaries.
The fighters are armed with automatic weapons, heavy machine guns,
anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. According to the
ITAR-Tass report, the whole operation to steal these reinforcements into
Chechnya is not being led by Khatab, or even Maskhadov, who, it is
rumoured, Shamil Basayev dismissed from all commanding posts late last week.
Unnamed military sources assert that the whole operation is being conducted
“by officers from the general staff of a certain NATO country”. The Russian
military claim they draw up specific objectives for the rebels and then
supervise the operations. The agency’s report says that the military got
this information from intercepted radio conversations between Maskhadov,
rebel detachments and a certain “NATO General Staff”.
At first glance this report might seem completely paranoid. However there
are certain reasons to believe that these revelations by some unknown
officers, most probably working for the Main Intelligence Department, have
a specific purpose – to provoke a scandal, on the one hand, in NATO
headquarters and, on the other, to create problems for a particular
country, belonging to the block. According to Gazeta.Ru’s sources in the
military, the country whose general staff could well be involved in rebel
operations and to whom the Russian military would like to ask certain
questions is Turkey.
In the last Chechen campaign, the General Staff received intelligence
reports that Turkey and its armed forces were indirectly involved in
supporting the separatists. For example, Turkish Air Force transport planes
flew ammunition, equipment and military vehicles into Azerbaidzhan, which
were then smuggled by air or sea through Daghestan into Chechnya. Most of
the equipment was Russian made and was possibly bought in roundabout ways
from Russia itself.
During the present campaign, reconnaissance units combing the abandoned
sites of the Chechen rebels’ winter camps found hundreds of containers of
NATO military rations and new uniforms. In addition, airborne units have on
many occasions found special platforms used to drop cargo into inaccessible
areas. In other words, the military have never doubted that the fighters
are receiving more than just financial aid from abroad, but until now have
preferred not to make any announcements about the matter, not even
unofficially. Now things have changed. Why?
According to the military, the large rebel detachment will attempt to
break-through from Georgia into Chechnya will right before the meeting of
the ‘eight’ in Okinawa. If this is so, then it is an open challenge to
Putin, in order to demonstrate how inefficient the Russian army is in
Chechnya. Therefore this sensational report that the Turkish General Staff
is assisting Maskhadov could be a sound pre-emptive move. But the Russian
military will probably have some difficulties in producing convincing
evidence of NATO involvement in the Chechen conflict.
Tatiana Gomozova, Andrei Matiash
From: "Galina Ackerman" <email@example.com>
Subject: About Andre Glucksmann
Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2000
Dear Mr. Johnson, As you probably know, the French philosopher André
Glucksmann is one of the most outspoken opponents of the war in Chechnya.
He organized several protests of French and European intellectuals, and is
very active himself in this domain. Last week he returned from a five
weeks trip to Chechnya and Daghestan where he went with the help of Chechen
fighters, without a visa from Russian authorities (which he was refused a
few days before going there through Azerbaidjan). I interviewed him the
day he came back, asked by an independant journal, Novaya Gazeta. The text
will probably appear tomorrow, but this is not sure, and it is sure they
will make cuts, because of some passages about Mr. Putin. However, I think
Mr. Glucksmann analysis is very interesting and contains some new points.
I am sending you the text of this interview both in Russian (slightly
shortened by myself) and in French (this is practically the transcription
of the interview). May be you would be interested to publish it in your
list. Sincerely, Galina Ackerman
Conversation with Andre Glucksmann
by Galia Ackerman
[translated from French for personal use only]
G.A. You have just returned from a rather dangerous five-week trip to
Chechnya and Dagestan. Why did you go there?
A.G. I did this for two reasons. The first one is rather odd: Russian
embassy in France denied me a visa to Moscow. Thus, I am prohibited from
going to Russia. This new way of setting up "black lists" is dishonorable
for the embassy and very honorable for myself, but I find this to be a
dangerous precedent established in relations between Russia and the West.
The setting up of black lists of intellectuals is an old KGB method which is
difficult to accept, and I am partly glad to have returned the favor to
Russian authorities by spending without their authorization more than a
month on a territory that they claim to control. This is a kind of revenge
for the experience that the FSB thrust upon Brice Fletiaux. You know,
Mr.Putin told that his kidnapping should serve as a lesson to Western
journalists, because Fletiaux had not asked for Mr.Putin's authorization to
take pictures of what was going on in Chechnya. Well, this will be a
reciprocal lesson: there are people who can dispense very well of Mr.Putin's
and the Russian embassy's authorization to go in Chechnya, in spite of the
presence of the Russian army.
The second reason is more important. The simple fact that the FSB did not
capture me and was not able to put me through the experience undergone by
Fletiaux demonstrates that the Russian authorities do not control the
territory and that the forces of Chechen resistance who helped me to stay on
the ground, so as to observe, to listen, and to be a witness, do control at
least a part of the territory.
So this challenge is not from Glucksmann any more, it comes from the Chechen
G.A. You are not a journalist, though, you are a philosopher, someone who
reflects upon the contemporary world. Wasn't there some more profound reason
which was driving you?
A.G. In a philosophical sense, I undertook something rather fundamental.
Since 1945, moral and political authorities of the entire democratic world
recognize the notion of crimes against humanity. A crime against humanity is
to kill someone just for the reason that this person had been born. This
someone could have been born as an Armenian, a Jew or a Chechen, and this is
enough to have the right to kill him. Crimes against humanity are being
committed in Chechnya. This has already been acknowledged at the time of the
comprehensive destruction of Grozny. When a city is being wiped out, a
capital that had 400,000 residents in 1995 is being reduced to dust, this is
an obvious crime against humanity. Because one does not erase a town for the
sake of the struggle against terrorism. When Hitler wiped out Warsaw in
1944, nobody thought that this was about a fight with the bandits.
Further, the United Nations, as well as the Geneva Conventions and the
Nuremberg Tribunal, established that crimes against humanity ought to be
brought before international juries. For example, Milosevic, whose actions
in Bosnia and in Kosovo had not outdone Putin's actions in Chechnya, has
been indicted by the Hague Court. He has not been tried yet, but he has been
accused of crimes. I believe that Putin can just as well be accused of
crimes against humanity, and if not himself, then at least the top brass of
the Russian army. But if there is a crime against humanity that ought to be
brought before international legal authorities, these latter cannot conduct
a trial without an investigation. Thus, one needs to have an international
investigation of the alleged crime, and this investigation should be
conducted immediately, if possible, before the criminals will eliminate the
evidence of their crimes. And if an international court is superior to
national courts - which is recognized by everybody, including Russia - this
international investigation should also benefit of this primacy of the
international law. If a certain state accused of crimes against humanity
closes its borders, the investigation has a priority over the national law.
Therefore, if I want to investigate, as a simple human being, a crime
against humanity, I don't need to ask for an authorization by an allegedly
criminal state. So, I just conducted my investigation without regard to what
the authorities of this state might think. If crime has no borders, if the
legal authority has no borders, then the investigative authority must have
no borders. And this is what I asserted, as a philosopher, by spending more
than a month on a territory populated by the Chechens.
G.A. Did you succeed in your investigation?
A.G. I find it absolutely dishonorable for the Western civilization, for
Europe, that Mr.Dini [chief officer of the European Union] dares to
announce, having spent three hours in the Russian army vehicles in Chechnya,
that a cease-fire is being enforced. This is a shame, but also an enormous
lie, for civilians there are being bombed day and night, shelled day and
night, attacked by ground-to-ground missiles which, obviously, strike not
upon a certain terrorist but upon a certain village, a certain region, a
certain maternity house. The missiles don't choose their victims.
In contrast to Mr.Dini, I have seen missiles to fall, I have listened to
bomb explosions. Sure, my investigation was incomplete, as any investigation
would be. One sees certain things, collects certain testimonies, but not
everything can be seen or collected. The work must continue. On the other
hand, for the sake of the security of my hosts I cannot disclose details. I
am grateful to those who enabled me to conduct this investigation, first of
all the people from the resistance army who led me very well across the
territory which the Russian army claims to hold. But I also want to say
thanks to those Russians from the military and the Interior who transported
me in their vehicles, which proved that they don't believe a single word
about the anti-terrorist struggle. There are many Russians, including in the
military, who have completely different ideas than Putin. Some transported
me out of conviction and said thanks to me for having come there, others did
this for money. But this proves that the situation on the ground is totally
different from what is told by "experts" on the Russian TV.
These experts sitting in their chairs in Moscow have never had a discussion
with a single Chechen. They never listened to Chechen women telling how they
pass military posts, how their body is being searched by the Russian
soldiery. In this country, women possess a lot of self-esteem, they are very
reserved, and this is a daily humiliation for them. This experts never had a
discussion even with the people from their own army. I certainly have
acquired more knowledge about the morale of the Russian army than did Moscow
strategists. When I see them enunciating that the war is finished and that
there is only a handful of terrorists remaining, I tell myself that the
errors committed by American strategists during the Vietnam war do not
withstand comparison with this stupidity. As for myself, I visited Chechen
villages where they had never been. In these villages, there are officials
appointed by Moscow, usually old Soviet-era functionaries, and then there is
real power, that of the fighters, that of the old village chieftains. And in
fact, official Russian representatives strike deals with the real
representatives of the population.
The Chechens are deeply divided. They hold a wide range of opinions on
Khattab and Basayev, but at the same time they are aware that they are
fighting for their survival. This is what Russian experts who talk about
international terrorism cannot grasp, which explains their failures. <...>
G.A. Having seen how things are on the ground, how would you evaluate
Russian policies in Chechnya? Are they realistic?
A.G. Realistic? Yes and no. It is realistic to think that one asserts one'
might by way of destruction. This is what Russia does. My great experience
in Chechnya is not just the one of a popular resistance at all levels -
armed resistance, but also spiritual and intellectual resistance. The other
experience, considered from the point of view of those who suffer from it,
is the destructive might of the Russian power. What I have seen in Chechnya
is a bandit state, a bandit society, a bandit army. < ... > Military power
is widely dispersed: there are regular troops, there are special interior
units (OMON), there is spetsnaz, there are contract soldiers. And each of
these entities acts on its own. < ... >
G.A. When I said "realistic", I meant another thing. At the beginning of
this war, the Russian authorities proclaimed that this was an anti-terrorist
operation and it was going to be brief. And now we see them mired in an
endless conflict. Was it realistic to start this war?
A.G. I think that nobody except the idiots sitting in European governments
(not even European deputies!) ever believed in this tale about fighting
terrorism. As for the Russian top brass, I don't believe they really
expected to win in a short time. From a realist standpoint, there is no
reason for this war to be stopped. The military, especially contract
soldiers, are making money. They are kidnapping people and then selling them
back. Or they are selling bodies of their victims who had died from torture,
because the Chechens want to buried among their fellow villagers.
These military men make money by thousand ways: they lend their vehicles to
Chechen fighters, they sell IDs, they demand IDs that cannot be found in
order to be entitled for a bribe, and so on. They are doing what all Russian
bureaucrats are doing, and the concurrence of bureaucracies serves the
consolidation of this looting system. In the bazaars of the area, the price
of gold has gone 30% upward, because the military men are buying golden
chains with the money looted from those people that they are killing. For a
contract soldier, it is fashionable to wear a golden chain around his neck.
But his salary is not enough to buy it, so he just steals money. Thus, we
speak of a profitable economic activity. <...>
It is true that among the Chechens there is a wide-ranging debate about
their military commanders. Basayev and Khattab are criticized very often.
Sometimes it is said that they are traitors paid by Berezovsky and by the
FSB. Sometimes it is said that they are idiots who had been engaged into a
venture organized by Berezovsky or by the FSB. Sometimes it is said that
they may be committing mistakes, but they are on the right side because they
resist the Russians. So, there is a diversity of opinion. < ... >
And yet, behind these discussions, there is a sense of a Chechen identity
which is more of a historical than of an ethnic nature (the Chechens easily
accepted mixed marriages), or of a religious nature. Traditionally, the
Chechens are Soufis [mistake: Soufis are religious orders within Islam] and
not at all Wahhabis, but many of them have received an atheistic Soviet
education, and are really not that religious. Today, it is the history that
forms the basis of the Chechen identity. They did not create any great epic
about their martyrdom under Stalin, but there are songs, there are
recollections of the elders. < ... > They are proud of their history because
they are conscious of knowing what had happened, and they feel that the
Russians don't know it. They have their history which is the history of the
Soviet Union, a genuine history, while the Russians have forgotten it or
never wanted to learn it. The Chechens perceive the Russians with a
fantastic sense of humor. < ... > A Chechen does not view a Russian as a
devil, but rather as a less civilized being than himself. And I believe that
in sum, with a fantastic exception made for the Russian culture, this is
G.A. You mentioned the name of Boris Berezovsky, a rather controversial
person. What do the Chechens think of this character?
A.G. They view him rather badly. Some condemn him because they believe that
he had influenced Basayev, Udugov and others and that he is in part a
godfather of Islamic terrorism, by way of his financial support and his
advice. Others believe that he plays a very big role in Putin's ascendancy
to power, and that this latter is due to his creating a pile of dead bodies
in Chechnya, that he had filled the ballot box with blood to forge an image
of a gangsterous little Napoleon for himself. In fact, there are interviews
given by Berezovsky that show that already from 1997 onward he foresaw the
usefulness of a large-scale war in Chechnya for the 2000 election campaign,
and that such a war could rescue all those thugs that had looted the Soviet
Union's heritage, those who had come in the place of the thugs of the
Brezhnev era. So, the Chechens are fully informed about Berezovsky's role,
though it is difficult for them to understand how this mechanism works.
In this regard, they have as much of a problem as we do: what is happenning
in Russia is a new phenomenon. What we see is not a seclusion with regard to
the West, as before, but an aggressive attitude which consists of a desire
to corrupt the West. Russia is listed among the fifteen pariah states in the
world where dirty money laundering has achieved exorbitant levels. I think
that, in Berezovsky's character, we deal with something that we fail to
understand at the moment and that begs for the genius of another
Dostoyevsky. This is a contemporary version of the possessed [allusion to
Dostoyevsky's novel]. Lenin had tried to influence intelligentsia worldwide,
and he partly succeeded in doing so. Berezovsky is different. He exercises
his influence, his destructive and corrupting powers upon the financiers,
the business world. There is an effort to corrupt the West, not through the
intellectuals any more, but through businessmen. < ... >
G.A. But what would be the point of Berezovsky's game with the Wahhabites?
Doesn't this contribute to the rise of anti-Semitism in Chechnya?
A.G. It does, but so what? Berezovsky's game is exactly to add fuel to the
fire, to push the developments toward an explosion of conflict, because he
hopes to drive people crazy. They can be driven crazy in various ways,
toward anti-Semitism, Wahhabism, Islamic terrorism, or toward Christian
Orthodoxy which would be carrying a Judaeo-Christian crusade against Islam.
The more the opposing camps behave as idiots, the greater is the
confrontation, and the easier it is for Berezovsky to play on both tables
while both camps pull his chestnuts out of the fire for him. He revels in
the game of a sorcerer's apprentice. I had seen testimonies to this effect
on the Russian television which I was watching while in Chechnya, as
everybody else. On one side, Berezovsky gave support to the most radical
Islamists and their journals which were denouncing the Freemasonic and
Jewish conspiracy in the terms of the Tsarist era Black Hundreds. And on the
other part Berezovsky also played a role in the case of Sharon Jr., who was
freed by the FSB at the right time and transferred to the Israeli
authorities. I followed the TV coverage which, within several hours,
transformed this simple and minor story into an Islamicist conspiracy
against the Jews.
Berezovsky's game is to foment wars of religion and use them as a tool to
strengthen Putin's grip on power. And, by the way, Putin plays the same
game. During his trips to Madrid and to Berlin, he proposed to create a
nuclear shield against terrorists. My God! What does it mean! Shall we
fight against Ben Laden with a nuclear shield?
I believe that it is dangerous to let people like Berezovsky and Putin to do
whatever they want, to make them believe that anything goes once they are in
power in the Kremlin. The Kremlin masters need some education. This was a
problem under Stalin, under Brezhnev, and these days it remains as such. Not
everything is allowed to the leadership of a country that has a global role.
And if they are allowed to do whatever they want, this creates situations
that could go out of control. Chechnya is the first example, and the last
one would simply be a worldwide explosion. Because if you really aspire to a
Judaeo-Christian crusade against Islam, against a billion of Muslims who
have every right to be Muslims and deserve respect, you create preconditions
for the very conflict of civilizations that is being debated by American
experts. And if there will be a conflict of civilizations, no civilization
will come out of it without losses. < ... >
WEB SITE COMMENTS ON BOMBINGS IN RUSSIA'S VLADIKAZKAZ, ROSTOV
Source: Jihad in Chechnya web site, London, in English 0500 gmt 11 Jul 00
[subhead] Russian intelligence murder Russian civilians
11th July: Mojahedin sources have confirmed that Russian intelligence
services bombed civilian targets in the cities of Vladikavkaz and Rostov in
southern Russia on Sunday [9th July].
The Russian government immediately blamed the mojahedin for the explosions,
which killed three civilians and wounded 15 others. The first explosion
happened in a market place in Vladikavkaz. Initial reports suggest a bomb may
have been planted in a car that was parked in the city's open market. The
second blast shook the city of Rostov, home of the war criminal Budanov.
The mojahedin leadership announced that Russia is repeating deliberate
strikes against its own people in order to inflame Russian passions against
the Muslims of Chechnya in general and against the mojahedin in particular.
During the first bombings, which happened in late 1999, hundreds of Russian
civilians were killed when Russian intelligence services (FSB) destroyed
several residential buildings in Moscow and other cities. The Russian
government blamed the mojahedin for the attack and used the event as a
pretext to justify Russia's colonial campaign in Chechnya.
Strong proof that Russia's intelligence services conducted the cowardly
bombings in 1999 has surfaced and has even been reported by several
international media organizations. A prominent British media channel reported
shortly after the bombings that local Russian police arrested several people
who were plating explosives in a residential building in the Russian city of
The British journalist and the Russian local police confirmed that the
explosives that were being planted by the arrested individuals were an exact
copy of the explosives used to destroy residential blocks and to kill
hundreds of civilians.
The British journalist and the Russian local police also confirmed that the
individuals who were arrested were later identified as agents in the Russian
intelligence services (FSB) and were released by order of the Russian
government! The then Prime Minister Stepashin admitted the arrest, but
claimed the FSB agents who were apprehended and then released "were just
conducting an exercise for security reasons"!
The mojahedin released the following communique in response to the bombings
that took place in Russia on Sunday:
"Let the Russian government and the whole world know that the mojahedin do
not disclaim any operations they conduct.
"The mojahedin are proud of all operations they launch and acknowledge them
without fear or hypocrisy. Had the mojahedin conducted these blasts (which
took place in Vladikavkaz and Rostov) they would have admitted it; but such
actions are against the morals of Islam which condemn the murder of the
innocent and the weak. Rather, the murder of the innocent is part of the
behaviour of the cowardly Russians.
"This war is between us (the mojahedin) and the Russian military; it is not
between us and the Russian people. If we wanted to conduct explosions we
would have done it against the Russian military in Chechnya and beyond
[subhead] Putin declares war on Islam for the second time
When he first came to power, Putin the Loser declared that the war in
Chechnya was against Allah, Islam and the Muslims. On Sunday, Putin declared
that the West should thank Russia which "is fighting alone against the
fundamentalists in Afghanistan, Usamah bin Ladin, Abu Sayyaf in the
Philippines who want to restore the Islamic Caliphate. I call upon the Jews
and Christians of the world to unite and face this danger which will destroy
the world." This statement was made by Putin to a French newspaper, and was
reported on Russia's Channel 1 TV at 2000 on Sunday. The statement has been
translated from Russian to English.
[subhead] Putin appoints hypocrite mufti as head of armed forces in Chechnya
The president of Russia, Putin the Loser, has appointed the hypocrite mufti
Akhmed Kadyrov as the commander of armed forces in Chechnya. It is not
entirely clear which forces Kadyrov will be commanding, particularly after
his own militia was exterminated by the mojahedin several months ago.
However, mojahedin sources confirm that Kadyrov will supervise the forming of
OMON units that are manned by pro-Moscow hypocrites and mercenaries. This
move has drawn the anger of Russian generals.
The Russian minister of interior has pledged his support to Kadyrov and has
promised to pay the wages of those who join the new OMON units. In response
to this support, Kadyrov accepted to build a Russian Orthodox church in
Chechnya and to accept the opening of several bars in the republic.
The mojahedin, whose stance against Kadyrov is well known, ridiculed this
latest ploy by Putin and his lapdog mufti. The mojahedin described this move
as further evidence that Russia's campaign to occupy Chechnya has failed and
that Russia is planning to withdraw from the republic and to keep behind a
proxy government there. This was the exact method used by the Soviet Union
shortly before it fled from Afghanistan.
Mojahedin sources confirm that this attempt to put Muslims against each other
will fail. This was stressed not only by the unified meeting of mojahedin
commanders last week but also by the unified stance of the Chechen people in
favour of the mojahedin and against Russia and its puppets. The mojahedin
also reminded Russia that Kadyrov is incapable and incompetent to fulfill his
new puppet role. Kadyrov, who officially is the commander of armed forces in
Chechnya, special presidential administrator to Chechnya and mufti of
Chechnya fled his home in Gudermes two weeks ago and is currently in hiding
in the Russia military base of Mozdok in the republic of North Ossetia.
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