Magazine article Insight on the News

Were the Recent Bombings in Russia Done by Chechen Terrorists or the Yeltsin Regime?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Were the Recent Bombings in Russia Done by Chechen Terrorists or the Yeltsin Regime?

Article excerpt

It is hard to imagine a tragedy more fortuitous for the present Russian government than the bombings last month of apartment buildings in Moscow, Buinaksk and Volgodonsk.

With the Yeltsin government enjoying the support of only 2 percent of the population and many members of the Yeltsin political family threatened with the loss of their wealth or prison once Russian President Boris Yeltsin leaves his post, the explosions united the country in support for a Yeltsin military campaign against Chechnya. The early success of this campaign, in turn, has led to a sharp rise in the popularity of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the man Yeltsin wants to succeed him. It also has created the conditions for declaring a state of emergency in the country and canceling the presidential elections.

Although it is almost unthinkable that the leaders of any country would seek to achieve their political ends by blowing up nearly 300 of their own citizens, the possibility that the bombings were planned by elements of the Russian leadership is becoming more plausible not only because they were so politically useful but also because the official version -- that they were exclusively the work of Chechen terrorists -- makes increasingly less sense.

According to persons close to the investigation, the four bombings, which were carried out in a two-week period, all had the same "handwriting," as attested to by the nature of the destruction, the way the buildings' concrete panels collapsed and the volume of the blast. In each case, the explosive was hexogen, a critical component in a new generation of Russian artillery shells. The bombs in three cases were placed in basements (in Volgodonsk, in a truck) and all four were set to go off in the middle of the night to kill as many people as possible.

To do without expert assistance what they are accused of having done, Chechen terrorists would have needed the ability to organize nine explosions (the four that took place and the five that the Russian authorities claim to have prevented) in widely separated cities in the space of two weeks.

They also would have had to be able to act with lightning speed. In the case of a bombing along the Kashirskoye Highway, the police had three hours before the blast checked the basement of the building where the bomb was placed. …

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