Sunday, July 31, 2005

Iran: The Options

"With regard to Iran, the situation is bi-dimensional. US intervention has two parameters to consider. The most imminent issue is indeed monitoring the Iranian non-conventional build up. The question is when and at what stage do we act unilaterally? However, it is not that simple, for the US is not a single player here and I don't mean the Europeans, but the Iranians themselves. With Ahmadinijad in power, the Mullahs are moving to the counter offensive in the region. There is a regional context to any American confrontation with Tehran. I cannot imagine any sort of military move against the regime -if indeed the nuclear red lines are crossed- with Syria's regime in the back, and more importantly with Hizbollah's global reach. Our analysts, experts and planners must take Iranian-controlled Terrorism (Hizbollah) and to a certain extent the radical intelligence services in Damascus when they contemplate maps for strikes or other surgical operations on Iranian mainland.

"For if US airpower bombs any target inside Iran, Hizbollah will bomb US cities with all their hidden power. So, in short, the long arm of the Iranian regime -the terrorist networks- must be dealt with either before, or during a potential campaign. But, if one observes the state of affairs of Hizbollah today in Lebanon, you'd conclude that its policies are all guided towards aborting all US policies. They know the confrontation is coming, and are preparing for it, ahead of time.

"The other dimension of US intervention in Iran, is as it was discussed by our colleagues on the panel, on behalf of Iran's civil society. But it is only when the level of oppression is wide, bloody and visible worldwide, that Washington can mobilize worldwide efforts in that direction. Hence, the reasonable policy is to offer full fledged support to the democracy movement in Iran. Not a symbolic posture with symbolic logistics, but an all-out campaign to enable the opposition forces to face off with the regime. The President, the Europeans and other nations world-wide must act swiftly and dramatically in their support of the "struggle of the Iranian people." Short of strategic moves, they will be offering the Iranian masses to their bullies, and we will have to wait for another generation. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, Ahmadinijad's installation in power is the equivalent of "sealing off the fortress" before drama erupts. In conclusion, I believe historic opportunities are ripe for US revolutionary action in the region, but the window is not that wide, before it shuts down again."

Dr. Walid Phares, in a FrontPage symposium moderated by Jamie Glazov

Strings at GSS

Once again the London Guildhall Summer School (director Scott Stroman, web site – now celebrating its 20th anniversary - held its well-attended 5-day course in jazz, rock and studio music, along with the usual advanced jazz weekend, singers’ weekend and recording engineering courses. As in the previous two years, the 5-day course included a substantial strings component, ably led by New York-resident Canadian violist amd violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch, who also performed in a tutors’ concert on the Wednesday evening.

The strings course, attended this year by students from the United Kingdom, Iceland and New Zealand, was composed of practical seminars covering a wide range of topics and special areas of interest, including transcription, rhythm syllabics, jazz scale exercises, harmony & ear training, and harmonic analysis of jazz standards with reference both to the construction of the improvised line and to string backing. Each morning seminar was followed by an hour and a half of workshop activity focused on the string ensemble, with piano, bass and drums. Among the compositions chosen as course material were Thelonious Monk’s We See, McCoy Tyner’s Passion Dance, and (in a repeat from last year) Henry Mancini’s A Shot In The Dark, which the ensemble performed at the final concert.

The afternoon theory, rhythm and workshop classes, led by a corpus of tutors some twenty-five strong, including saxophonists Don Rendell, Malcolm Miles, Jean Toussaint and Martin Hathaway, pianist Huw Warren, vocalist Donna Canale and many others, were not divided up by instrument, and so there was an opportunity for students to work in ensembles of different and varied kinds. Each workshop led to a recording session in the school’s basement studios and a performance at the final concert. As in previous years, the presence of strings in the workshop ensembles led to some interesting and sometimes problematic situations, though these were usually resolved in a satisfactory way. My own experience in a Level 4 improvisation workshop with a group formed of 4 saxes, viola, guitar, piano, bass and drums involved an encounter with a non-functioning microphone in the recording studio which in our performance of Joe Lovano’s Luna Park more or less failed to pick up the sound of the viola at all. Since the previous day’s recording of the string ensemble in the same studio hadn’t entailed any such problems, I didn’t take an amp to the recording and relied on the studio sound system, which was doubtless a mistake. In general, during the week I had the impression that there is still quite a way to go before strings are generally integrated and accepted as “normal” instruments in jazz education and jazz ensemble playing. Jazz viola in particular seems – perhaps unsurprisingly – a slightly marginal genre of playing, with course tutors quite happy in a group setting to refer to “the violin”, when meaning the viola (one tutor even asked me, in class, quite seriously: “what’s the difference between a viola and a violin?”, though I like to think that this was probably a didactic question aimed at informing students of other instruments who might not be aware of what the difference was).

The Wednesday evening tutors’ concert also revealed some discrepancies with the integration of string instruments in a jazz setting. Tanya Kalmanovitch’s playing was certainly audible, but while this was in many ways a rousing and entertaining concert, as a listener one had the sense that the other musicians were not wholly attuned to the presence of a string player in their midst. This was particularly noticeable in one of Tanya’s own compositions, where her fine, melodic solo – in a meditative, lyrical, but also intellectually structured vein – was undermined by alarmingly insensitive playing from the group’s pianist.

In spite of the occasional problems, however, this was a stimulating week of jazz education and music making, which I would wholeheartedly recommend to string players, whatever their level of training. One of the most striking aspects of this year’s strings course was the high level of technical ability among the students, and their openness to all kinds of music, from classical through world music to jazz. The spirited performance given by Tanya’s klezmer ensemble at the final concert on the Friday evening made one aware of the futility of applying categories to music – for this lively rendering of the traditional dance tune “Odessa Bulgarish” with clarinets and strings was unmistakably jazz.

Once again, thank you, Tanya.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Catching Up

I'm back from a week's music at GSS - mostly improvisation for strings, with Tanya Kalmanovitch, and mostly very enjoyable - and am now catching up with the week's blogging. It'll take me a day or so to get back to normal posting.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Project Klebnikov

The U.K. Sunday Times has a report on Project Klebnikov, the inquiry set up by a group of U.S.investigative journalists to probe the murder in Moscow of their colleague, Paul Klebnikov:
In an apparent breakthrough, Russian prosecutors claimed last month that the killing — the first of a western journalist in the country — had been ordered by Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a fugitive Chechen warlord whom Klebnikov had interviewed for a book published in 2003.

Klebnikov’s family and friends are sceptical, however, and more than a dozen reporters, including representatives of Vanity Fair, the glossy US magazine, 60 Minutes, the flagship CBS TV programme, and Forbes, the business magazine where Klebnikov worked, have joined forces to try to find the truth.

The initiative — named Project Klebnikov — is aimed not only at uncovering fresh lines of inquiry into the killing, but also at continuing some of the reporter’s own investigative work.

“I felt that something needed to be done for Paul, for journalism and for Russia,” said Richard Behar, a friend of Klebnikov who has worked for Forbes, as well as for Time and Fortune magazines. “Paul was working on a number of sensitive projects and I want us to take up from where he left off."
The article notes that
Far from congratulating the Russians on solving the murder, American authorities have urged them to continue their inquiries. Critics suspect that the investigators found it more convenient to blame a Chechen than to explore suggestions that Klebnikov had uncovered documents which influential figures in the Byzantine world of Russian politics and business did not want to be published.

It has been suggested that the journalist was working on a story that would have shown how millions of dollars earmarked by the Kremlin to rebuild Chechnya had been stolen. He is also believed to have been looking into links between organised crime and Russia’s car industry.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Chechnya: A View from the Ultra-Left

The two Chechen wars have brought their procession of horror. Anglo-Saxon interference tends to prolong this drama while blaming the Kremlin for it. This criminal policy could bring about reactions of a similar nature by the Russian Federation in the areas of Anglo-Saxon influence and cause a spiral of violence in peripheral scenarios like during the Cold War.

Marivilia Carrasco
Mexican Foreign Affairs Analyst, Director of Reseña Internacional, the Movimiento de Solidaridad Iberoamericana daily. She also writes editorials for Voces del Periodista, a fortnightly publication of the Club de Periodistas de México.

Litvinenko Interview

The translation of the following Chechenpress interview and phone-in with Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB and FSB officer who now lives in London, England, is extremely rough from the point of view of English style and syntax, and was clearly not made by someone whose native language is English. Nevertheless, it offers some unique insights into the workings of Russia's intelligence and security services and their involvement in the Chechnya conflict and the Ukraine crisis, and as such is worthy of close attention. Incidentally, Litvinenko's book Blowing Up Russia, though banned in the Russian Federation, is available in a very fluent and readable English translation,and can be ordered here (there are some online excerpts, too). The links that are given at the end of the translated interview are to the Russian-language edition:

A. Litvinenko about Explosions of the Houses and the Beginning of the Russian-Chechen War

The interactive programs "Speak to America" with participation of the invited experts and radio listeners are broadcasted from Monday till Friday at 21 o'clock , Moscow time. You can also listen to them in record on our site after the ether.

The participant of the program is Alexander Litvinenko - the former lieutenant colonel of the FSB, which has received a political asylum in the Great Britain, the co-author of the book forbidden in Russia "The FSB Blows Russia up", written in the co-authorship with a Doctor of historical and philosophical sciences, American writer Yury Felshtinskiy. The second, corrected and added edition of this book is published this year in the USA by the publishing house “Liberty Publishing House”.

Inna Dubinskaya is the interrogator of the program.

"The Voice of America " : Your book "The FSB Blows Russia up" is published in English and Russian, a documentary film "An Attempt at Russia " has been shot after it. Three years have passed since the first edition of the book. What for is the second edition necessary?

Alexander Litvinenko : Yury Felshtinsky and I do not stop work on collecting of proofs about acts of terrorism in Russia in 1999… The new materials, which have appeared after the first edition, essentially supplement and prove our version that in 1999 the explosions in the Russian cities were carried out by agents of the Russian special services.

V.A .: According to your words, the purpose of the book "The FSB Blows Russia up" is to show, that problems of Russia are caused not with Yeltsin's reforms, but with the opposition, which was rendered to these reforms by the Russian special services, unleashed both Chechen wars "to turn Russia from democracy to dictatorship, militarism and chauvinism". What do you think have you reached this purpose and whether after reading of your book the reader will have a clear representation about for whom and for what the war in the Chechen Republic was necessary?

A.L .: I think, that clever, thinking people, having read the book, will reflect on in what country they live, and in what country their children will live. Even before writing of the book, in 1998, I and my comrades including Michael Trepashkin, who is in prison now, came out at a press conference with the application that, actually, special services were prepared for a plot with the purpose of capture of the authority. Unfortunately, for that moment the civil society in Russia was weak, today it is absolutely absent, therefore we were not heard, and we had to struggle against this system alone. You see the result of it: Michael is in prison, I had to emigrate, and some our comrades were broken and began to slander us and to refuse their words.

G.A .: In the foreword to the first edition you write, "After the period of the obvious confusion, caused by the events in August, 1991, the special service realized the advantage of a new, free from the party control epoch". Why was this situation favorable for the special services?

A.L .: Inside the Central Committee of the party there had always been a system of struggle between the special services and the party top. Those people won, who were supported by the special services. In 1991 those people, who supported the party bosses, were falling out from balconies, and those, who supported the KGB, remained alive and now control the party money. Though the party controlled the KGB, it permanently used to leave out of this control, and it resulted to the capture of the authority by the KGB.

The KGB does not realize one thing: it can exist only when there is an ideology. Today it reminds a house dog, who has left from under the control of the owner; first it began to steal sausages and when the owner specified the place to it, it gnawed him and now walks across the flat alone. We were tried to be convinced, that the KGB was stability. We see, what kind of stability it is: every day there is terrorism, terrorism, terrorism, murders, violence - Russia is choked in blood. It is the result of that the KGB is in the Kremlin.

G.A .: If it is really the result of that the KGB is in the Kremlin, how can you explain the extremely high popularity of, according to your words, the protege of the KGB president Putin? Polls show, that his rating is more than 60 %.

A.L .: I do not think that all these ratings are the truth and that Putin is supported by 60 %. Look other interrogations: recently "The Echo of Moscow" asked a question about the trust to the judicial system. 97 % of the interrogated do not trust the judicial system. How can then 60 % trust the president?

Certainly, there are people, who feel nostalgia for the Soviet past, when everyone had guaranteed 150 roubles. They knew that if they stood in a queue for a detergent powder and socks, by the New Year they would receive two pairs of socks for coupons, and it calmed people down. These are those people, who support Putin. They feel nostalgia for their slavery, because Putin, basically, inherently, also is a slave, as a free person cannot make slaves of people, and today Putin makes slaves of people. That is, he wants to control everything, so that everybody would obey him, and do only what he needs. It is slavish ideology and psychology. There are free people, there are a lot of them from the right side and from the left one, and I am sure, that 60 % of the country does not support Putin.

A call from Kazakhstan : Why are special services interested in dismembering of Russia ? - In fact they are called to keep its unity and integrity?

A.L .: Russian special services are able to do only one thing - to destroy. Their very ideology is violence, to solve problems with force. It seems to them, that this is the only way for Russia to remain in the structure, in which it is now: a powerful state, an empire. "We shall strangle everyone dissatisfied with force". Certainly, the majority of employees do not want the disintegration of Russia , but they do not understand that they do something, because of what Russia will disintegrate. Those clever people, who understand it, can do nothing, because there is a vertical of authority, about which Putin used to speak, and the one, who does not match this vertical, turns out to be in the next world, or in prison, or in emigration.

A call from Kazakhstan : What can you say about invalids of the war in the Chechen Republic ?

A.L .: What happens now in the Chechen Republic is, certainly, genocide of small people, a terrible tragedy, a shame of the whole Russian state and its citizens. Any war is victims, invalids, orphans, and I think, that those people, who unleash war, should understand, in what it will result and to be responsible for it. The invalids, both the Russian military men and Chechens, and civilians of any nationality are victims of genocide and the terrorist regime of the Russian state and the people, who rule it.

A call from the Leningrad region : Everyone say, that there is genocide against the Chechen Republic and, for some reason, they consider it to be intrigues of the KGB, but, in no way they make comments on acts of Chechens outside the Chechen Republic. When Umar Dzhabrailov wanted to become the president of Russia and wished to take the hotel "Radisson-Slavic" from a citizen of the USA (he was shot right in the center of Moscow), for some reason nobody was speaking then, that it was the KGB. Or they hide the truth about colonel Budanov, to whom a Chechen girl simply told, what was done with her relatives in Russia , and he hammered her to death? Why do not they say, what Chechens do outside the Chechen Republic , as if they are such good guys?

A.L .: The Russian state began a terrorist operation against the Chechen state, and I have seen the documents, in which the president of Russia Yeltsin and president Mashadov signed the peace treaty, which, by the way, only the adjacent states can sign. That is, Russia de facto and de jure recognized the Chechen state as independent. After that Russia committed a crime against the Chechen Republic under the guise of carrying out of an antiterrorist operation.

When this operation began, it was necessary for the Russian armies to enter the territory of the Chechen Republic to detain 11 or 12 terrorists, who were searched. For today only few people are detained, and the quantity of acts of terrorism for this period for a year makes about five hundred. Thus, the efficiency of the antiterrorist operation has led to an increase of acts of terrorism and terrorists hundreds times. The international experts, speaking in court in England , define these events as "a war". It is a war, which was unleashed by the Russian state against the Chechen one, for the period of which from one million Chechens 250 thousand are killed, 35 thousand of them are children. It is genocide, and all of us will be responsible for it, all citizens of Russia .

G.A .: Djohar Dudaev's coming to authority in 1991 was perceived by the Russian special services without objections. And beginning with 1992, bribes were received from Dudaev for the Soviet arms left in the Chechen Republic . These bribes, you write, were taken by three employees of the law enforcement bodies, supervising access to Yeltsin: the chief of the security service of the president Alexander Korzhakov, the chief of the Federal security service Michael Barsukov and the first vice-premier Oleg Soskovets. Soon they began to take bribes in exchange for the decision of the problems connected with independence of the Chechen Republic . When Dudaev refused to give the next bribe and threatened to reveal the names of the participants of the transactions, it led to that Dudaev became "a dangerous witness, who should have been killed". So, you write, the war in the Chechen Republic began. Whether it means, that three people unleashed the Chechen war: Korzhakov, Barsukov and Soskovets? How did they manage to persuade Yeltsin to begin full-scale military actions?

A.L .: I am sure, that Yeltsin was convinced by those three, because at that time they completely supervised "the access to the body". But they were supported by the system and the people, understanding, that if Russia moved by the way, by which it had moved in 1991-1992, very quickly it would come to democracy, there would be a private property, market economy and then there would be no place for the officers of the special services in the society. They would have either to live for a salary, or to work and to earn money on equal with everybody conditions, to what they, naturally, were not used. Therefore the only way to mislead Russia from the way of democracy was to make the democratic president illegitimate and to unleash a war, as it was done.

As far as the weapon is concerned, a huge quantity of it was left in the Chechen Republic . We are friends with Ahmed Zakaev, and he told me once, "Everybody says, that I am a gangster, a member of an illegal formation. But look: Russian armies were withdrawn, left to us some thousands of cars with cartridges, explosives, tanks, planes, machine guns. All this should be protected, but how can we do it? And Djohar Dudaev established the Chechen army, and I am accused, that I am a general of an illegal armed formation". Why is it illegal? In fact, there were military parades there, deputies of the Duma, including Vladimir Zhirinovsky, used to visit them. In 1996 I was told be Alla Dudaeva, that Korzhakov, Barsukov and Soskovets had taken bribes from Dudaev. I reported on it to the management - to General Vyacheslav Voloh, whom you can find by phone 132-77-55 in Moscow , and he told me, that there was no need to report on it to anybody.

A call from Cheboksary : Could you comment the information, that Putin, Patrushev, Sergey Ivanov, probably, participated in Victor Yushchenko's poisoning.

A.L .: Russian special services actively participated in the elections in Ukraine , supporting Yanukovich according to Kuchma's request. For eight years of his board Kuchma had turned from the nationally elected president into a Kremlin KGB puppet. Naturally, they wanted to change one puppet for another. But there was Yushchenko on their way, a powerful oppositionist, intelligent, clever, and strong. Special services realized that if Yushchenko was alive, it would be extremely difficult to seize the authority. And they took their usual path: if there is no person, there is no problem.

Poison is the same weapon for them, as a knife or a pistol. Only a specialist can apply it, who has worked in this sphere for a long time. In Moscow there is a special laboratory of operational and tactical management of the FSB on poisons, whence the poison was transferred to Ukraine (there are not such laboratories in Ukraine ). The application of poisons by the Russian special services is strictly regulated. Only the head of the FSB or his first assistant can give the order to apply it. If it is a political murder, the head of the FSB Patrushev would have never dared to do it, not having informed president Putin. I do not have any doubts, that the initiators of the plot to kill Yushchenko were Putin and Kuchma, who ordered the heads of the Russian and Ukrainian special services. And today Yushchenko's face is an evident display of the foreign policy of mister Putin.

G.A .: In your book you mention, that in 1999 the public opinion of Russians and the international community was on the party of Chechens. You write that it was necessary to create an extremely negative image of Chechens to affect the attitude of Russians to the Chechen Republic and to force them to believe in necessity of a new military intervention. This purpose was achieved: soon after the explosions of the houses in Moscow , Volgodonsk and Buinaksk 64 % of Russians expressed their support for massed bombardments of the Chechen Republic . Chechens were accused of the explosions. Meanwhile, as you specify in the book, that it was extremely unprofitable and illogical for the Chechen Republic to organize any acts of terrorism. Why?

A.L .: Because they simply did not need it. And Chechens did not have such forces and means to organize explosions of four houses for a month. And then there is also such a fact. The break between the two blown up houses in Moscow makes week. After the explosion of the first house the person, who had leased two cellars in both houses, was detained and interrogated. He testified that he had really leased two cellars – in the Guryanov Street and in the Kashirka Highway to one and the same person. For a week between the explosion in the Guryanov Street and the interrogation and the second explosion in the Kashirka Highway , nobody found time to see, what the one, who had rented both cellars, put in the Kashirka Highway .

A call from Germany : Tell us, please, about participation of Chechens in defense of the Brest fortress during the Great Patriotic War.

A.L .: 200 Chechens participated in the defense. By the way, an uncle of Ahmed Zakaev was lost at defense of the Brest fortress.

An anonymous call : Do you know how much money Yushchenko stole from the national bank and why he declared himself to be the president before the official elections?

A.L .: If Yushchenko has really stolen money, why is he still free? If he did it, today on all screens, Internet-sites, in all newspapers there would be documents about it, and he would not exist today as a politician.

A call from Kiev : Do not you think that the primitive approach to special services, which you propagandize, is interesting to nobody already for a long time? Probably, there is "the fifth column" in the Russian special services, which dreams of a reconstruction of the USSR . And leave your fantasy about Yushchenko for your new book!

A.L .: Russian services also are primitive, and the person, who heads them and is in the Kremlin now, is also primitive. And this primitive approach has led to that they have blown up Yandarbiev in Qatar and have poisoned Yushchenko.

G.A .: In the chapter "The FSB against People" you write, that "it was important for the FSB to involve Russia in a war as soon as possible, so that the presidential elections in Russia would take place on the background of a big war and so that the new president… would inherit a war". What for did the FSB need, that the elected president turned out to be before the war in the Chechen Republic ?

A.L .: The president, waging an illegal war, is illegitimate. When there is a war, the state is ruled by generals. The explosions of the houses had the purpose not only to unleash the war, not only to make unknown Putin famous, but also to spread Putin with blood, because when these explosions were prepared, Putin was the head of the FSB and one week before the terrorist attack was appointed to a new post. All this is a planned action, and Putin is connected with blood with this system of the KGB.

G.A .: The first foreign edition of your book in Russian, as it is known, was arrested in Russia . Whether our listeners can get acquainted with the second edition? Where and how is it possible to do?

A.L .: The book can be found in the Internet sites:

Chechenpress, the Department of mass-media, 24.07.05.

Dozens Flee Borozdinovskaya Again

Saturday July 23, 2005
World News - The News International, Pakistan

Dozens flee Chechen village for second time

NALCHIK, Russia: Dozens of residents of a Chechen village have fled to a neighboring Russian region for the second time in two months, officials said Friday, in what human rights activists said was an attempt to escape abuses by local security forces.

Thirty residents of the Borozdinovskaya village fled their homes and crossed into the neighboring province of Dagestan on Thursday, settling in the town of Kizlyar, the Chechen president’s press service said.

But Vyacheslav Burov, Kizlyar’s top official, said that up to 80 residents fled to his town on Thursday and still more came Friday, their makeshift tent camp now numbering over 100 people. Hundreds of Borozdinovskaya residents virtually the entire village spent two weeks in the Kizlyar camp in June after security forces conducted a brutal raid in their village, killing one elderly villager and leaving 11 others missing and feared dead. Chechnya has been locked in a separatist conflict for much of the past decade, and human rights groups accuse Russian forces and their local allies of repeated abuses against civilians, including kidnappings and extra judicial killings.

But the June 4 raid pitted ethnic Chechens against ethnic Dagestanis,marking the first serious conflict between the two groups.

Villagers blamed the raid on members of the Vostok battalion, comprised mostly of ethnic Chechens but subordinate to the Russian military. Residents returned in late June only after President Vladimir Putin’s top envoy to southern Russia, Dmitry Kozak intervened and Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov offered safety guarantees and compensation. Saigid Murtuzaliev, a Dagestani lawmaker who helped mediate the crisis, speculated that it was the slow provision of compensation that prompted the villagers to flee to Dagestan for the second time.

Human rights groups, however, said Borozdinskaya residents were driven by fear for their safety. "In all of Chechnya I haven’t seen a place where people would be as scared,’’ said Svetlana Gannushkina, an activist with the Russian human rights group Memorial.

(via chechnya-sl)

Vostok Was In Borozdinovskaya


The "Vostok" Battalion really was in Borozdinovsk

RUSSIA, Moscow. According to a statement by the "Social verdict" foundation on 21 July an informed source from the Republic of Chechnya has put a photocopy of an official police document, relating to what occurred at the village of Borozdinovsk on 4 June, at the disposal of the Nizhegorodsk committee against torture, which is conducting a public investigation which took place there.

As a result of an attack in Borozdinovsk several homes were burnt down, several inhabitants were injured, and 11 people went missing.

On 20 July the Committee Against Torture received an official copy of the duty section of the Interior Ministry of Chechnya's communication records from the communication record book No. 535 of the 5 June 2005 (registered at 20.15). The document states that "On 05.06.2005 a message was received by the duty section of the Interior Ministry from the Shelkovsk Regional Department of the Interior Ministry that on 04.06.2005 in the period from 15.00 until 20.30 the "Vostok" battalion of the Ministry of Defence numbering between 70 and 80 people carried out a special operation in Borozdinovsk. During the operation to arrest or eliminate members of illegally armed groups the battalion, moving in 2 armoured personnel carriers, three armoured "Ural" cars, 6 - 8 trucks, and cars, arrested inhabitants of the village of Borozdinovsk on suspicion of committing crimes".

There then followed a list of 11 surnames of missing people and an indication that while special operations were being conducted in the village for reasons unknown a fire broke out in the village, which caused fatalities. The circumstances behind these deaths are being established. The 11 people who in the official version were reported as missing were, in the communications report, detained in order to check their details with an Interior Ministry database. This document also states that their names did not appear in this database and confirms that all the material had been handed over to the prosecutor's office.

News agency PRIMA-News [2005-07-21-Rus-06]

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Posting is going to be intermittent during the coming week. Things should be back to normal by next Saturday.

A Deadly Mistake

It seems that the London police, in their reaction to the dangerous situation on thre streets and on public transport, haven't taken the path of caution advised, for example, in the article by Alexander Golts I referred to earlier. The man who was shot at Stockwell Tube station was the wrong one. Now anyone who has dark hair or dark skin may feel threatened and at risk in London, and that can only arouse antagonism and resentment. With some experience of the dire effects of racial profiling by police intent on "cracking down", some independent Russian news outlets like are coming out with headlines such as "London police making deadly mistakes".

With the situation in London as tense as it has been these past few weeks, one can understand the police response, and also that there was probably very little time to make a decision. But couldn't it have been possible to merely wound the man? The repeated shots to the head suggest a level of violence that can only be self-defeating.

The Two Faces of Putin

On the Project Syndicate website, Nina L. Khrushcheva reflects on what she sees as Russia's split personality, as exemplified in its current president:
Indeed, Putin’s signature characteristic is to be all men for all Russia’s people. By blending the Soviet past with the Tsarist past and a few shards of Yeltsin-era democracy, Putin seems to think that he can neutralize the extremes of Russian history. Instead, the extremes seem to be squeezing out the desire for modernization.

High oil prices now seem to be the only factor allowing Putin to keep the reform charade going. The nineteenth-century czar Alexander III once said: “Russia has only two true allies – its army and its navy.” Oil is Putin’s army and navy, allowing him to build and maintain the image of a strong, but also an internationalist, state.

Alexander's formula is also popular today with Putin’s nationalists in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In his pro-imperial Russia film “The Barber of Siberia,” the Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov – whose father composed the Stalin-era national anthem that Putin recently revived – used the coronation of Alexander III as the symbolic centerpiece of Russia’s greatness, inviting Russian leaders to walk in his footsteps.

This strong-willed monarch, while ruling the Russian empire autocratically, managed to bring stability and prosperity, allowing capitalism to take root. He worked to strengthen and modernize Russia’s armed forces while avoiding armed conflict. He became known as “The Peasants’ Tsar,” though he didn’t tolerate any opposition thinking contrary to his own.

Putin sees his own crusade to save Russia from disintegration and separatism as similar to Alexander’s. But how forward-looking is it to model a twenty-first-century country on the absolutist example of the past?

Stalin is yet another cherished role model. Here, too, Putin tries to walk on both sides of the street, calling Koba a tyrant to sooth the wounded feelings the Baltic leaders, yet instantly qualifying his remarks by saying that Stalin was no Hitler. Can we really compare the degree of evil of these two men?

Despite his insistence on rubbing shoulders with world leaders and portraying himself as a modernizer, Putin, like his predecessors, is in fact a ruler who believes that only authoritarian rule can protect his country from anarchy and disintegration. But the old ideas, the mimicry and symbols Putin employs to achieve his goals, no longer correspond to today’s realities or Russia’s present capabilities.

Previously, it was Russia’s Western mission that was pure Potemkin village. Now Russianness itself seems to lack a secure foundation, for it is but a hollow shell of discarded state symbols. Like a bad driver, a nation that looks left and right but never ahead is bound to crash.
Hat tip: Marius

Beslan: Kulayev Trial Continues

Kommersant's day-by-day reporting of the trial of Nurpashi Kulayev continues. An excerpt from the latest report (my tr.):
25 year-old Zarina Pukhayeva said that among the terrorists on the second day after the seizure of the school she saw a woman of Slav appearance, "not a shakhidka". She told the investigation about this.

"She had a rifle, and she was obviously a sniper. Her blond hair was in a ponytail. I didn't see again after that, not even in the photographs of the killed fighters.

"If I have understood you correctly, you saw this woman on the second day (after the school was seized - K.)?", Judge Aguzarov asked.

"Yes, she wasn't there any more after that."

"Kulayev, did you see this woman?" the presiding judge asked, turning to him.

"No, I didn't. But they told me about her in the "sixth department" (the Interior Ministry [MVD] department dealing with the fight against organized crime) said, and the investigators also talked about her.

"Was she in the vehicle with you?"


"I also wanted to say that there were more than 32 fighters there," Pukhayeva said. "I mean, there were two fighters standing by each window."

(via chechnya-sl)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Interview with Mikael Storsjö

From the Finnish journal SixDegrees, an interview with Finland-Swedish businessman Mikael Storsjö, who last year rescued the Chechen resistance information site Kavkaz Center from being shut down after pressure from the Russian government and special services:

SixDegrees met Mikael Storsjö, a man who hosted web pages of the Chechen news agency on a Finnish server,, which resulted in the Finnish security police coming after him hours after opening the site. How did a Finland-Swede IT-entrepreneur become involved with the Chechen resistance movement?

Storsjö prefers to talk about freedom of speech rather than having a narrow discussion on terrorism; he thinks both sides of the conflict should be heard equally.

How did you come into contact with Chechen resistance?

Since my childhood, I have had an interest in Caucasus, ever since I started reading Tolstoi’s books. Over the years, I have been following several web pages, including Kavkaz-Center, which I suddenly noticed had been closed down. As I run a web hotel and we have freedom of speech in Finland, I welcomed them to put up their web server in our web hotel. They warned me about the political consequences, but, at that point, I didn’t think it would ever become such a big issue.

How long did it take until it was found out that you were hosting that web page?

Very shortly after opening the site in Finland, some Russians spotted it and found out that the page was located on Sonera’s network. After that, some politicians and the Ministry of the Interior contacted the Security Police and gave them an order to check out what was happening. Also on the same day, Sonera was asked to shut the site down which they didn’t do since they couldn’t see any reason to do so without criminal evidence. However, they gave my information to the Security Police and the next morning I received a phone call from them. They suggested a meeting and two police officers were in my office in less than ten minutes.

Should Sonera have given out your information?

I don’t think it was appropriate. On the other hand, we know that Sonera is not very safe when it comes to confidentiality. It wasn’t illegal but not really necessary.

What happened when you met the Security Police officers?

They told me that what I was doing was a dangerous activity in the international context and thus asked me to take the server down. I said that I didn’t find anything illegal in this activity and told them that I was not prepared to do so. When I asked them whether they could point out anything criminal on the site, they replied that there was some harsh language and hatred on a discussion forum; some Russians had apparently said that they hoped to place a nuclear bomb over Chechnya to get rid of the people.

According to Finnish law, discussion forums are not part of the Internet publication and therefore are not the editor-in-chief’s responsibility. There is a special value in these kinds of websites because every conflict has at least two sides and it is not fair that only one side can get their opinions out to the public. The same evening they called me asking for more information. They had translated 30-40 pages of text from the Russian version of the site into Finnish because neither of the police officers spoke Russian.

I wonder, as a citizen, how efficiently the police are using their scarce resources. Some four people worked with this issue, around the clock, during the weekend, while other duties were neglected because of lack of funds, I find this upsetting. I also think that the police have misunderstood their role in a democratic society. They should protect the people to use their constitutional rights, not to convince people to give their rights away.

Did they consider Chechens as terrorists?

No, I don’t think they did. It was more a question of how Russian authorities will look upon the issue. We mostly discussed the political situation in Russia, the media and how the society is becoming militarized.

Did you feel that the pressure originated from Russia or it just to prevent that pressure happening?

I would say that it is the second alternative. For example, Erkki Tuomioja, Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed on his web site that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately took steps to stop the website once they had found out about it. However, he was wrongly informed thinking that it was a site encouraging people to take terrorist action. I heard that in the end he did not find his own actions very appropriate and changed his website.

Have you learnt what people are so afraid of in those pages?

The pages have many readers, especially in Russia where there are only a few oppositional media. The government is keeping everything else under strict control. They are afraid that too many people follow this media and it will influence public opinion. This web page is somewhat radical, it represents an Islamic view. Anyway, I don’t think they support the fundamental Wahhabism movement, which according to some scientific studies has limited support in Chechnya.

The Russian government fears Muslims and Islamic movements; they simply don’t know how to handle the situation with diminishing population combined with a growing number of Muslims. A third reason is the person who started, Movladi Udugov, the Minister of Media and Information in Dudaev’s Government during the first Chechnya war. Russians are very afraid of Muslim attacks and have personal hatred against Udugov, who won the propaganda war during the first Chechen war.

How did you put it up again?

I tried to put the server up here in Finland into some other web hotels but they all refused because they were afraid of having the Security Police running around their corridors. The following step was to fix a new Internet connection myself. I tried to do that in my living room but the delivery time was too long. In the end, I called a company in Sweden that had some slightly anarchistic pages and a lot of media turbulence around them. After half-an-hour, they called me back and asked me to come there with my server.

Have you had any further contact with the Security Police?

Not anything similar to their first visits, but they are interested in knowing what is happening. I have been in contact with them myself because I have nothing to hide. I feel, as a taxpayer, that they should not need to work finding information that I can give them directly! One of these police officers was invited and came to our company’s Christmas party! They are just doing their job and I have nothing against keeping them informed, on the contrary, the better they are informed the smaller the risk that they will do something stupid.

Has Russian Security contacted you?

I had a discussion with one bureaucrat from the Russian Embassy when the site was shut down. That discussion was meaningless because he just kept telling me how good everything is in Chechnya, how it is being rebuilt and there is only a handful of terrorists. You cannot have a real discussion if the other person lives in denial. Either he is a liar or maybe he really believes this because he only reads Russian news!

It is not regarded as a problem that over the years about 250,000 people have been killed and hundreds of people are still killed each year. In Russia, nobody speaks about it and nobody knows about it. There have not been any contacts from the Russian side except when I went to Caucasus at turn of the year. I applied for a visa to Russia via the Finland-Russia association but I was refused. The clerk at the association asked the consulate why and she was told - you know why. Apparently, I am a persona non grata for them.

How did the media learn about the story?

I have been working in media and I know it is very important to get your own version out. I contacted Hufvudstadsbladet, where I knew a reporter and told him the story. It could have been a discussion about terrorists, but I preferred to discuss freedom of speech. By going first to the press, I succeeded in turning the discussion towards the topic of my preference. That is why I got most politicians and human rights activists to support me. If I had been quiet, they would have referred to me as some monster with a terrorist site in Finland.

Does freedom of speech exist in Western society or is it a myth?

It exists here more than in communist, fascist or Islamic countries, for example. The main problem is that freedom of speech demands money. As Churchill said, “Democracy is a bad governmental system but the best one we know”. The same applies to the freedom of speech in the Western world - it is not perfect but it is the best we know.

What’s the future of Chechnya?

It is clear that you cannot solve the conflict by violence. This war has been ongoing for 400 years. During the Caucasus war in the 19th century more than half of the population was killed, and during the deportation in 1944 one third died. During Putin’s and Yeltsin’s wars, one fourth of the population have been killed. All that together is more than 100 percent! Many Russians have been killed too; they have lost close to 25,000 soldiers, which cost society a great deal. I hope that one day they will make a political deal that is perfect for both parties, though anything is better than the present situation. I think we will see a free Chechnya one day but many lives will be lost before that.


Born 1957 in Fiskars

M.Sc. (Econ)

Entrepreneur in EDP business since 1983

Running a business centre (Office House) since 1986

Freelance journalist

Interests: reading, Internet, political history, organizational activities, different kinds of outdoor activities

Summer plans: trekking a couple of weeks in Greater Caucasus mountains (Azerbaijan and Georgia)

Who's Afraid of Grozny?

At Prague Watchdog, a translation I've made of an essay by Yuna Letts about her recent visit to the Chechen capital Grozny:
All journalists with the chronic form of the illness of their own profession have two or three aims in the early stages of their work. Some dream of reporting directly from a burning house, some are obsessed with notes of criminal proceedings, some fervently desire to take part in a scientific experiment. In the fourth year of journalistic syndrome, some of my little goals were achieved - living contact with Pele, Digger excavations, three months in a sect, Shabbat in a most rigid and inaccessible synagogue. My vanity was satisfied. There was just one thing that would not let me sleep – a city, dead and mysterious, a city of weeping and of decomposing bodies – Grozny. Only I went there not as a female journalist, but, but as "a person of this world".

Of course it would it foolish and dishonest with regard to those people simply to go to Grozny with the aim of taking a stroll and "running under the bullets a little". I went there to meet the writer Ismail Mukayev, to discuss an inter-republican project and regular collaboration with Chechen literary organizations. He advised to me to conceal my journalistic certification, not to talk with anyone on the way and not to stick my neck out when I didn’t need to.

In the North Caucasus

I travelled from Nalchik. The Gazelle minibuses that go to Grozny outwardly resemble hearses - black all over: black blinds on the windows, black seats, the drivers in black clothing, dark glasses, with stiff black beards. The passengers were mainly women with children, a few young girls and two lads. The Chechen girls wore skirts and shawls, almost without cosmetics, they seldom spoke Russian. All the women were accompanied by someone.

My looks are generic. If need be, it’s possible to see Chechen features in them, but also Kabardian, or Jewish ones, and even the representatives of the one nationality or the other are deceived by this similarity. But I did a foolish thing - I went in jeans, and so right from the very beginning I attracted the suspicious glances of my fellow-travellers.

I soon got the jitters. The driver was talking in Chechen, and rather rudely, too, shouting something, waving his hands. Then I understood what the matter was: he was asking who hadn’t paid. It was me, of course. The whole minibus turned round and looked at me as though I were an enemy of the people – by now they had realized that I knew no Chechen.

A ticket from Kabardino-Balkaria to Chechnya costs 200 rubles. This a lot of money for Chechens, and so they seldom manage to get to the most peaceful Caucasian republic, only out of necessity - to buy household items and provisions that aren’t available in Grozny. Chechens are not liked here. Locals told me that they once came for the markets of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic – to Nalchik, Maisky, Prokhladny – stood for a day with their wares and never went there again – they were “asked” not to poke their noses into other people’s lands.

We faced the prospect of crossing several borders – there are approximately five checkpoints, not counting the additional checks made before public holidays. The problems started for me at the very first of these. One can also see it from the frontier guards’ point of view - a girl of strange appearance, registered in the Smolensk Oblast and re-registered in Moscow, travelling from Nalchik to Grozny. Alone.
The whole of my translation of the essay can be read at the Prague Watchdog website, here. The original Russian text is here.

September Poem

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

From: W.H. Auden - 'September 1, 1939'

It Happened Before

A Nazi leaflet from the V-1 bombing campaign against London and Britain in World War 2.

Psychology of Terror

At RFE/RL, Roman Kupchinsky considers the possible psychological impact of the London terror attacks:
Simply put, the fact that the terrorists used nonlethal devices during a time of lower passenger usage could have been meant to create panic as opposed to injury. The 21 July attackers would have shown the British public and security forces that they are still able to strike when and where they wish, and that the mass-transit system in London cannot be fully protected, even when it is on the high alert status of 21 July.

The psychological impact these latest attacks might have on Londoners is difficult to predict, but it could have the effect of galvanizing opposition in Great Britain to the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts.

Moreover, it could also precipitate a strong anti-Muslim backlash in England, which could conceivably lead to racial tensions and increase Islamic militancy in the country.

If that is the intent of the organization behind the attacks in London, then the tactic could indeed be a powerful tool that might be used in other countries with large Muslim populations.

London and Russia

As the British authorities ponder how best to respond to the current wave of terrorist bombings, which may augur a sustained campaign not unlike those of the IRA, lasting for many months, or even years, they are all too aware that the manner of their response will have an impact beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. In Yezhednevnyi Zhurnal, the perceptive commentator Alexander Golts considers the implications for Russia of what is taking place in Britain. An excerpt, in my translation:
London has not randomly been chosen as the target of terrorist attacks. Its tolerance, dignity and confidence in the inviolability of the law are the personification of Western civilization. The terrorists are confronting its steadfastness with their terrible experiment. Will Londoners remain as they were before, or will fear of the invisible enemy turn into racism, xenophobia, the persecution of "foreigners"?

The terrorists are clearly going on the assumption that the London bobbies have been given permission to behave like Moscow cops – stopping a man in the subway merely because the colour of his hair and the shape of his nose are suspicious. In short, that they will betray their traditions, and start "rubbing out in the outhouse". And then, the terrorists feel encouraged to believe, British Muslims, who have absorbed confidence in the inviolability of their own rights along with their mothers’ milk, will feel they have been insulted. As a result, some will turn up in the ranks of the supporters of "Al-Qaeda".

What happens now in Britain will be extremely important for Russia. Putin and his entourage are watching very closely how the leaders of the Great Powers act in extreme situations. The YUKOS affair became possible after the American invasion of Iraq: President Putin, who has never believed in democracy and the supremacy of law, viewed them as something like a club necktie, which one was supposed to wear. And he wore it for so long and no longer, until he saw that when his friend George got impatient he didn’t give a damn about international law. Putin concluded that the main thing was not law, but the presence of force and determination, the notorious "resource". If the British follow the road of "extremism" – the effect will be felt in Russia, for sure.

London Situation

The BBC reports that a man has been shot dead by police at Stockwell Tube station, South London.

The best live blogging of the ongoing situation is to be found at, where Robin Grant is providing an hour-by-hour update.

Borozdinovskaya - IV

Human rights activists have proved that the inhabitants of Borozdinovskaya have been detained by military servicemen

Human rights organization "The committee against tortures" obtained information, which proves that 11 inhabitants of the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, who have being considered as disappeared without a trace in the course of the raid on the village on 4 June, were detained on suspicion of committing crimes by the soldiers of the Vostok battalion.

In "The committee against tortures" press release, which was sent to Gazetu.Ru, [] an informed source from the Chechen republic presented at the committee's disposal a xerocopy of a sheet of the registration booklet of the duty unit of MVD of Chechnya under No 535 of 5 June, 2005, (registration was marked at 8:15PM).

It's indicated in it that "on 5 June into the duty unit of the MVD of Chechnya entered this report of the operative duty officer of Shelkovsky ROVD, that on 4 June from 3:00Pm to 8:30 PM the soldiers of Vostok battalion numbering 70-80 people, who were moving by two APCs [BTRs], three armored Ural trucks, six-eight UAZ jeeps and passenger motor vehicles, when conducting of special-measures on detention and destruction of the members of illegal armed units in the populated area Borozdinovskaya detained on suspicion of committing crimes some inhabitants of Borozdinovskaya settlement".

In this registration booklet it is also noted, that those particular persons were detained for checking in in the base of data of the information center MVD of Chechnya. However, it was established after the checking that these persons aren't registered, in the data base - it was emphasized in the report.

See also: Borozdinovskaya

(via chechnya-sl)

When Despots Get Together

In the London Times, Jeremy Page describes how "Europe's last dictator" and Putin have agreed a unity plot to stay in power:
President Lukashenko of Belarus arrived in Russia yesterday to promote a reunification plan for the two countries to offset growing Western influence in the former Soviet Union.

Some analysts say that the new union would allow Vladimir Putin to stay on as President after 2008, when, having served two terms, he is obliged to step down under the present Russian Constitution.

The two countries formed a loose union in 1996, but it has been hampered by economic disputes and personal animosity between Mr Lukashenko and Mr Putin.

Both leaders, however, appear to have put aside their differences after revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and now seem to be forging ahead with plans to form a new union.

Russian officials say that they are drawing up a draft constitution to be presented to the two leaders in the autumn, and that they are discussing plans for the Russian rouble to be introduced in Belarus next year.

"It is much more of a reality than people think," said Ivan Makoshok, a spokesman for the embryonic Russia-Belarus Union, estimating that full reunification could take as little as two years.

Mr Lukashenko has ruled his country of ten million people for more than a decade by reviving Soviet-style economic controls, silencing opponents and holding a series of flawed elections and referendums.

But analysts say he now fears that he could become the latest in a sequence of autocrats across the former Soviet Union to be toppled in a Western-backed revolution.

The United States has called President Lukashenko "Europe's last dictator" and last year passed the Belarus Democracy Act, which authorises assistance for a regime change in what the White House calls an "outpost of tyranny". Mr Putin, meanwhile, is anxious to prevent another former Soviet state turning its back on Moscow and
pursuing integration with the West.

The idea of reunification has been championed by Pavel Borodin, the secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, who hired Mr Putin as his deputy while serving as head of the Kremlin's property department in 1996. The only question is who would head the new union. Talks on reunification came to a halt in 2002 after Mr Lukashenko balked at the idea of Mr Putin taking the top post and demanded equal status.

Mr Lukashenko still harbours aspirations to share power with Mr Putin and some analysts say that he is simply trying to extract economic concessions from Russia. But others see a genuine convergence of interests, if not a warming, which could ultimately lead to the creation of a new political, as well as economic, union.

Aleksandr Yakovenko, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "It would not be an exaggeration to say that bilateral relations have been ascending, resting on the centuries-long brotherhood of the Russian and Belarussian people. We are discussing making preparations for agreements on the legal status of the union state's property and on providing Russian and Belarussian citizens with equal rights."
(Hat tip: Marius)

Lukashenko the Loser

"Did you see President Lukashenko and TVC President Poptsov on TV?" asks Natalia Gevorkian in Kommersant:
The wonderful, kind, sincere, and unbiased Lukashenko. An angel, simply an angel. He made an appearance just for the visit. With persistence worthy of the best, Moscow continues to cajole leaders who have no future.

In the eyes of the Russian leadership, these relations with Lukashenko, who is considered an outcast by normal people, probably have a specific, momentary objective. For example, the de facto formation of a union of the two countries by a single ruble space, which brings along with it a dominant Russian presence in the Belarussian economy. A liberal empire à la Chubais, peaceful economic expansion.

It remains only to convince Lukashenko that this will be good for him too. Of course, he's not very likable, but he's not an idiot. And he knows all about the levers of government that he will personally lose in this case. They might remind him of the risks of losing everything according to the Ukrainian scenario, because this time, the West has already decided not to conceal this. It turns out that if Russia stressed its real presence in Belarus, the West would reconsider its
democratization program.
Read the rest.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Beslan Film

I managed to catch Kevin Sim's film Beslan on UK Channel 4 this evening. As one might expect, the documentary raises more questions than it answers. It's a powerful film, largely compiled from newsreel footage, perhaps spoiled at times by unnecessary background music, and a certain "dramatic effect" element that also seems redundant, given the subject matter. Nonetheless, the interviews with survivors and with relatives of those who perished in School No. 1 are genuine, deeply moving and convincing. One man whose personality came through very strongly was Ruslan Aushev, the former Ingushetian president who tried to negotiate with the hostage-takers. The film makes it clear beyond doubt that he was sidelined by the Russian federal authorities, who were intent on ordering the storming of the school. The personalities and motivation of the terrorists were much less clear - and this is where the questions arise. Aushev stated that the men who seized the school were not high on drugs at all, but merely extremely confident. And the question of what happened to them is also obscure: it seems possible that instead of being killed, as the authorities claim, they escaped and got away.

The issue of the use of rocket flamethrowers in the ending of the siege is not mentioned in the film, though the scenes showing the blaze they caused are included.

Boots in Dagestan

In Yezhednevnyi Zhurnal, Yulia Latynina writes about President Putin's incognito visit to Dagestan:

English version:

Dagestan Needs More Than Boots

President Vladimir Putin traveled to Dagestan last week, though the visit was not made public until after his departure. When the head of state has to travel unannounced for security reasons, you know the region he's visiting is having problems.

News coverage of the visit made this clear. Putin tackled Dagestan's problems head-on. His criticism of the footwear provided to soldiers in alpine units was particularly hard-hitting. "You can't walk on flat ground in these, much less in the mountains," Putin declared.

Unfortunately, Dagestan's problems are not limited to the poor quality of soldiers' boots. The republic is awash in corruption. Of Dagestani leader Magomedali Magomedov's three sons, one controls Khleboprodukt, which produces baked goods, and another controls Deneb, a producer of mineral water. Dagestanis joke that the president has put his sons on bread and water rations. The third son is in charge of oil transshipment in the region.

It's frequently said that there is a single ruling clan in this multiethnic republic: the Dargin. That's not entirely true. Most government jobs are sold to the highest bidder, and when money's involved, ethnicity doesn't matter so much. Jobs are often sold to several bidders at once, however, and the question of who gets the job is left up to them to decide.

Terrorism in Dagestan is the result of total corruption. The only business in Dagestan is the sale of government jobs, not the production of goods. Residents of the republic can therefore be divided into four categories: those who were given a job based on family ties; those who bought a job; the armed guards who protect people in the first two categories; and the unemployed young people with no money or prospects who are recruited by the Wahhabis and paid to kill cops.

When you're not in the business of earning money but divvying it up, you don't need workers, you need servants and family. It doesn't matter if you're a murderer or a Wahhabi in this case. What matters is whether you're related by blood or grew up in the same village.

There was a shootout in late May near the Gimri tunnel. Explosives were discovered. The Wahhabis had wanted to blow up the tunnel. One of the men killed on the Wahhabis' side was rumored to have been carrying an ID from the Federal Security Service, but that's not the important thing. What's important is that when cops arrived in Gimri to arrest the people who had planted the explosives, the locals simply refused to let them in.

A similar shootout took place in Khasavyurt when Ramzan Kadyrov's boys came to arrest the Adzhiyev brothers. The ensuing gunbattle between the Chechens and the local Kumyks raged all night. Kadyrov's reinforcements couldn't get through because the Kumyks had blocked the bridge across the river with a couple of cars loaded with gravel. One man was killed on each side, and the next morning Kadyrov's boys turned around and went back to Chechnya.

Shootouts, rallies and demonstrations like these happen every week, and they usually involve anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand people. This past spring, about 100 people blocked the entrance to the regional FSB office in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. They demanded the release of the Gairbekov brothers, who had been arrested in the attempted murder of the head of Dagestan's pension fund. The crowd didn't care whether the Gairbekov brothers had tried to blow up the pension chief. They weren't interested in the brothers' longstanding ties to Shamil Basayev. They were simply the Gairbekovs' friends and relatives.

With all this going on, Putin traveled to Dagestan and discovered that the footwear provided to alpine units in the region didn't pass muster.

Yulia Latynina hosts a talk show on Ekho Moskvy.

Russian NGOs Face Bleak Future

From today's RFE/RL Newsline:
PUTIN CALLS FOR BANNING FOREIGN FUNDING OF POLITICAL ACTIVITIES ON RUSSIAN SOIL... At a meeting with members of the Council for Promoting the Development of Civil Society on 20 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for restricting foreign financing of "political activities" of Russian NGOs, Russian news agencies reported. "Not a single, self-respecting country will allow that, and neither will we," Putin said. "We believe who pays the piper calls the tune," he added. Putin added that the government is ready to establish grants for public organizations, but these should not be interpreted as an attempt by the state to bribe the groups. Politika Fund head Vyacheslav Nikonov told Interfax that Putin's remarks are likely connected to "events" in the former Soviet Union, noting that the revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan "were financed from abroad." He added that "the U.S. has already allocated $58 million for Russian democracy. No doubt, this money will be distributed through public organizations." JAC

London Situation

The four London incidents involving detonators or failed explosions now appear to be concluded, with police requesting the public to return to normal activity. Casualties are reported to be very light. Three tube lines are still closed.

In a fifth incident, BBC News 24 TV showed pictures of police with automatic weapons arresting a man outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall.

Update (17.20 BST): The situation at UCH seems to be resolving itself, with patients being allowed to leave. Press are still being kept outside, however.

BBC News 24 is no longer showing the film of the man being arrested at gunpoint outside the MOD. The only footage of the arrest currently being shown is of the man lying prostrate on the pavement under police guard.

Five tube lines remain closed.

20.20 BST: Police cordons are still being maintained in large areas of the city.

Russia's "Anti-terrorist" War Games

At EDM, Sergei Blagov writes:

From July 18 to 24, Russia is holding large-scale military maneuvers aimed at countering potential terrorist attacks in its Far East region. However, since terrorists have not yet really targeted Russia's Far East, the drill is understood to have other purposes as well.

The drill, code named "Vostok 2005," aims at preparing for "the fight against international terrorism in all its aspects," according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. The military exercise is designed to boost security in order to confront "separatists, radical religious-nationalist movements, and international radical groups," according to a Ministry statement. Furthermore, the maneuvers aim at training "practical measures to forestall attempts to undermine Russian territorial integrity."

The official Ministry of Defense statement fails to reveal what group might try to undermine Russian territorial integrity in the Far East or how they would accomplish this goal. However, the drill involves significant numbers of troops: more than 5,000 personnel from the land forces, air force, railway, and Interior Ministry.

The war games appear to indicate that Russian military planners still emphasize conventional, large-scale warfare. Troops of the 5th Army, based in Ussuriisk, Primorie region, and the 35th Army, based in Belogorsk, Amur region, as well as the 83rd paratrooper brigade, the 14th spetsnaz special brigade, and the 55th marine brigade from Vladivostok are participating, according to Russian media reports. The drill also involves five Su-24 jet fighters of the 11th air force army, as well as two Su-25.

The first Far Eastern war games were held in 2002. Two years later, in June 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Pacific Fleet's Rybachy submarine base (Kamchatka oblast) to observe the "Mobility 2004" exercises. Putin's presence at the drill indicated the Kremlin's concern with Far Eastern security issues.

The 2005 drill, held under the command of General Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, and General Vladimir Bulgakov, deputy commander of the Russian land forces, is divided in two stages. The first stage, July 18-21, involves anti-terrorist operations, while the second stage, July 21-24, is devoted to training troops to repel outside intervention.

However, many Russian media outlets were not really impressed by the war games and did not accept the official "anti-terrorist" rationale for the drill. Only Trud (July 18) described the drill as major maneuvers of strategic importance. Other publications sounded somewhat critical.

The location of the anti-terrorism drill sparked confusion, as the Russian Far East faces more pressing challenges and threats than terrorism, commented on July 19. Drills like "Vostok 2005" may possibly boost Russian military clout in the region, but they are unlikely to solve other problems, such as security on the Korean peninsula and the long-standing territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands, said.

The 11th air force army would be taught to combat bandits, ironically commented on July 18. Kommersant speculated that some of "Vostok 2005" troops could take part in joint exercises with China next month (Kommersant, July 19).

However, the military officially confirmed a Chinese connection with the "Vostok 2005" drill. According to General Baluyevsky, the drill aims at improving coordination between troops of the Far Eastern military district and forces of the Pacific Fleet. In a report released by the Far Eastern military district press office on July 19, Baluyevsky is quoted as saying, "I have a number of strategic issues to explore during the maneuvers." Furthermore, "special attention" would be given to preparations for joint maneuvers with China in mid-August," he said.

Russia is scheduled to hold unprecedented joint war-games with China on August 12-26, 2005. The exercise was first mentioned in a memorandum of understanding between the Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, Guo Boxiong, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in July 2004. China and Russia first revealed plans for joint military exercises in December 2004, when Ivanov visited China. The war games are expected to involve Russia's strategic Tu-95MS bombers firing cruise missiles, presumably to drill on how to overcome missile defense systems.

Defense ministers from other Shanghai Cooperation Organization member-states, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, are due to observe the August drill. said that the drill coincided with speculation that Beijing could hope to set up a military base in Kyrgyzstan, which would be the first People's Liberation Army facility outside China.

However, Russian strategists have a number of Far Eastern issues to explore. For example, some time ago Russian media were prone to speculate about possible Russian military involvement in Korea. "Russia's best response to a possible nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be a preemptive missile strike against North Korean nuclear facilities, carried out by the Russian Pacific Fleet," the country's leading daily, Izvestiya, claimed two years ago. The daily also quoted anonymous Pacific Fleet sources as saying that Russia's Varyag cruiser would be able to use its cruise missiles and destroy North Korean launch facilities.

Yet apart from Izvestiya's odd leak, the Kremlin has repeatedly offered to mediate in the Korean stand off. President Putin has repeatedly argued that Pyongyang is unlikely to draft any aggressive plans and also urged to provide North Korea with guarantees of non-aggression.

Thus the Russian war games may not involve training for preemptive strikes against North Korea. However, "Vostok 2005" appears to indicate Moscow's growing interest in Far Eastern security, which is not surprising on the eve of unprecedented joint war games with China next month.

Russia Training Terrorists

From Mosnews, an account of something that doesn't seem particularly surprising:
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), formerly known as the KGB, gave terrorist training to Ayman-al-Zawahiri, the second most wanted member of al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden, Asian News International reported Sunday.

The Pakistani newspaper The Dawn quoted a report in the Polish newspaper “Rzeczpospolita” that before deciding to join Osama, Zawahiri received terrorist training in 1998 at an FSB camp in Dagestan.

Thereafter, he shifted his base to Afghanistan to become Osama bin Laden’s deputy, the paper quoted a former FSB agent as saying.

The agent also claimed that Zawahiri was not the only link between the FSB and al-Qaeda
(Hat tip: Free Thoughts)

Moscow and the Propaganda War

The Kremlin is regularly stepping up its propaganda effort to portray itself as an ally in the war on terror. On Moscow Region Channel 3 TV's "Main Theme" (July 15), commentator Andrei Dobrov referred to British ambassador Tony Brenton's 7/7 press conference remark that the extradition of Chechen government envoy Akhmed Zakayev to Russia might be secured if backed up by sufficient evidence. The British Foreign Office subsequently downplayed these remarks, and stated that there was no likelihood of Zakayev's extradition being contemplated, but of course there is no reference to this in Dobrov's commentary. That commentary reeks of the oily rhetoric and sanctimonious schadenfreude that were characteristic of Soviet journalism in the 1970s. There are even eerie echoes of Wolf Mitler and Lord Haw-Haw:
[Dobrov] It is terrible, of course, but terrorist acts have a way of forcing people to face up to reality soberly. The USA before and after September 11 is two different countries. Even Russia, with all its experience of struggling against terrorism, has not changed its policy quite so drastically as the States. Whereas previously the Americans preferred to act diplomatically and portrayed their military as mostly morons with the nuclear bomb, now diplomacy is but a cog in the US war machine.

True, the Americans are idealists. They think they can make the Earth a safer place to live on if they take control of the whole world. Sadly, this is not so. But for the moment, they believe in this idea so much they are ready to die for it


[Dobrov] I am afraid a real war has begun in the world. It is in its initial period, when the warring sides are searching for allies and identifying adversaries. The problem is that the sides are not clearly defined. There is no clash between the East and the West and there is no front-line. Not one country in the East these days would claim to be the homeland of the terrorists who bombed New York, London and so on.

It can be said, of course, that one blast [as heard] would not rock British society, that political correctness and commitment to the rule of law would prevent the terrorists from setting the English on people descended from the Orient, thereby creating fertile ground for the recruitment of new supporters and new fighters. But what if there were a series of blasts at some intervals? Say, once a year? What if blasts came every six months?

Look at how the methods are changing. September 11 was a dramatic terrorist act, but it was very labour-intensive. Planes had to be commandeered, flown where necessary and so forth. Now terrorist acts have become much simpler. A man is on a train. When two trains meet in a tunnel, he blows himself up.

Just what can security services do against this? With all due respect to their personnel, I can say: not much. Prevention of terrorist acts is an exceedingly difficult and thankless business. British police were on permanent alert and what did they achieve?

The world is changing fast and not for the better, as we can see. The cold war between the West and Russia, which some are trying to bring back, must cease, or else there will be no sides left in this dispute. Therefore, politicians who are raising tensions instead of lowering them are effectively accomplices to terrorists. Organizations such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] must be dissolved and proscribed as terror accomplices.

(Via chechnya-sl)

Beslan: The Questions Mount

The Moscow Times reports that Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel has now changed his story, and has acknowledged that commandos fired flamethrowers into the packed Beslan school gym, fueling speculation about what set off the blaze that engulfed the building and contributed to the deaths of scores of hostages.
Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel, who reversed his earlier statements by making the admission last week, adamantly insisted, however, that the Shmel flamethrowers could not have sparked the inferno during a special forces operation to free the 1,200 hostages on Sept. 3. More than 330 people died in the Sept. 1-3 attack, about half of them children.

If prosecutors find that the commandos intentionally ignited the gym, as some Beslan residents and a regional lawmaker believe, it would mean that Russia violated an international convention banning the use of incendiary weapons that might injure or kill civilians, said Alexander Cherkasov, a senior member of the Memorial human rights group. Prosecutors also would then face the potentially unpleasant prospect of having to open an investigation into the military and security officials who organized the rescue operation, he said.

Although classified as a flamethrower, the Shmel in fact launches rocket-propelled projectiles, according to Jane's Information Group, an international center for defense information. The Shmel has three modifications: the RPO-A, whose shells explode; the RPO-Z, whose shells are incendiary; and the RPO-D, whose shells create smoke.
The report also gives the reactions of parents who lost children in the storming of the school:
Beslan residents attending the ongoing trial of the only suspected surviving hostage-taker in the North Ossetian Supreme Court in Vladikavkaz said they had not noticed any glowing but were convinced that the commandos had caused the fire. Aza Gumesova, whose child died in the gym, said the fire was so hot that the metal crowns on her child's teeth melted.

Unaffordable Luxury

In Bolshoy Gorod, Masha Gessen writes about the journey she made with Garry Kasparov to the south of Russia, and describes the problems involved in attempting to make Russian realities comprehensible to those who have never set foot in the real Russia, which begins beyond the main cities of St Petersburg and Moscow:
"Well, you have to understand what happens when you travel outside Moscow." I was utterly ashamed about the series of banalities I had said over the phone to the editor of New York Times Magazine. "Russia is a very big country"; "Moscow is not Russia." And the most betraying phrase of all, the one each of my sentences began with: "Well, you have to understand."

The editor was trying to understand. She remembered the word stability and asked: "Is the opposition really smothered right at birth? And everywhere? And on orders from Moscow?" I replied that stability is really a necessary minimum when you're thankful that nothing's falling apart. And that the further away you go from Moscow, the more fragile that balance is. In conditions like these, an opposition is an unaffordable luxury. And you don't need any special orders from Moscow to understand that. The editor grew dismayed and, it appeared, began doubting the veracity of the story I had just told her.

And the story of my five-day trip with former chess champion and current opposition politician Garry Kasparov in the North Caucasus and in southern Russia was incredible indeed. I joined him on assignment from the New York Times Magazine, but no one anticipated the scoop that I was about to get. In five days, Kasparov managed to get himself turned away from 10 places. When he went to the Kizlyar refugee camp, he was warned off in the traditional manner: "We cannot guarantee security." When he planned to attend an awards ceremony at a children's chess tournament, the head of the Dagestan Chess Federation was threatened with losing his job. In an armored conference hall in Beslan, someone suddenly started showing the cartoon Madagascar. Outside, someone sprayed ketchup on us. In Vladikavkaz, they didn't let us in on the pretext of a fallen curtain (we can imagine that it was an iron one), while outside a local community center children gathered for a drawing contest accompanied by outrageously loud and endless "Chunga-Changa." In Stavropol they shut down the airport because they reportedly found rocks on the runway. In that city, every institution - from the community center to the city hotel, as if on cue - declared that their electricity had been cut off. Even though in the hotel, televisions, refrigerators, and air conditioners seemed to work just fine. They didn't let us land at the Rostov and Taganrog airports either - this time without any explanation. We had to rent taxi vans to get from Stavropol to Rostov. A young man at a Rostov public library noted that he had never seen a politician riding in a taxi van before. Meanwhile, in the library itself, a water pipe was said to have ruptured.. In each of the regions, Kasparov was always pursued by a couple of cars - we counted 10 in Stavropol alone.

At the end of the last day of our trip they finally let our airplane land in Rostov - so that Kasparov and Co. could hurry off back to Moscow. "Can you believe that only five days and four nights have passed since we left Moscow?" Kasparov asked. "It feels like a month and a half." Most importantly, it was hard to believe that five days ago we were an excited group from Moscow, content, smug, traveling in a chartered plane (by the way, the VIP room in Stavropol we reserved in advance was suddenly closed on the day of our arrival for "failure to conform to regulation"). Now we presented a pathetic picture: exhausted, dressed in clothes ruined by eggs and ketchup.

That is a separate story. When the heavy hand of a bodyguard bent my head down, I only heard shouts and felt something sticky on my face. It was cold, so I decided it wasn't blood. And I couldn't see anything - the stickiness was not transparent. When I touched my head, I felt broken egg shells. I rubbed my eyes. Kasparov was standing next to me. Usually, he rarely loses self control, but his face was twisted. On his face was a sticky, shiny liquid: he had been hit with two eggs. It was certain that the egg that hit me had been directed at me.

This is what we "have to understand:" we traveled from Moscow into Russia. It's not very stable there, beyond Moscow. The balance there is so fragile that if an opposition leader opens his mouth, everything crumbles.

After a couple of hours, I tried to wash off the remains of the raw egg that had dried in my hair along with the eggshells. It was in the Vladikavkaz hotel, a nice place, recently renovated. There's nice furniture and a new TV set. Rare drops of warm water fell from the faucet. It wasn't that there was no one we could complain to, it was that there was nothing to complain about: this is what is considered to be prosperity in the provinces, this is stability. In reality, this is the necessary minimum, the water is almost hot, so that you can wash every morning before work. In these conditions, getting eggs in your hair is an unaffordable luxury.

See also: Hiding Behind Children
The Fathers of Beslan and the Silver Mercedes Jeep

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Umarov Interview - II

Chechnya Weekly has a more detailed account than the one I linked to earlier:
During the third week of June, Doku Umarov gave an interview in Chechnya to Radio Liberty correspondent Andrei Babitsky, a transcript of which was published by the separatist Chechenpress and Kavkazcenter websites on July 15. Among other things, the Chechen rebel field commander, who was recently named the rebel movement's vice-president (see Chechnya Weekly, June 22), expressed his disapproval of terrorist attacks like the Beslan operation and his adherence to traditional as opposed to radical Islam.

Asked whether he would concede that there is a significant portion of the Chechen population that "cannot conceive of life outside of Russia," Umarov replied that if you took away the "terror" and "fear" instilled by the Russian army, not even one percent of the Chechen population would say they could not conceive of Chechnya independent of Russia. "Earlier, in the epoch of the Soviet Union, when there was one country, maybe," he said. "But now, after six years, I think that there are not any such people." They simply state this out of fear, Umarov said.

At the same time, Umarov did not contradict Babitsky's statement that it was not possible for the rebels to win the conflict militarily. Instead, he seemed to place hopes in a change of administration in Moscow. "In any case, we are people of faith," he said. "A person without faith is not a complete person. We are on the path of Allah; it is a sacred path for us. We are this way obligated to do jihad. Today, a superpower that the entire world must reckon with cannot win militarily; this should also be analyzed. But until there is a change of government [and] reasonable people come to power, you can't count on an end to the war. There is also not a hopeless situation. Things are not as bad for us as some people think. Because it would be bad if it were the year 2000 and the start of Putin's administration. And I believe that the era is changing, that all governments change and that his epoch will end [and] reasonable people will come to power. Such an administration, such an empire sooner or later must come to an end. And today …to live with these people is practically impossible. It is impossible for any self-respecting person."

Umarov dismissed the idea that the rebels today consist only of adherents of radical Islam as "work of the FSB" and a lie of "Kadyrov's clan." "A Muslim, any Muslim, any person, must live according to some laws. And if a Muslim lives according to the Sharia, if that Sharia forbids him from carousing or smoking or doing something, [then] I think this is not bad. But I, for example, joined the war as a patriot. Before the war I was in Moscow, and when the occupation began, I understood that war was already inevitable, [and] I arrived [in Chechnya] as a patriot. Maybe at that time I didn't know how to pray; I don't remember. To claim today that I'm a Wahhabi or that I'm a person of radical Islam is laughable. I have an entire front; I pass along the front and don't see that they're trying to present Wahhabism, terrorism to the whole world."

Babitsky noted to Umarov that Shamil Basaev had planned and carried out several terrorist attacks and justified them on the grounds that "Allah grants the right to take from an adversary what has been taken from you." Umarov responded: "In any case, today we do not have such a right. If we use such methods, then, I think, there will be no way back to a humane cast of mind." Asked whether the terrorist attacks in Beslan and Moscow have been recognized as morally legitimate for "all fighting Chechens," Umarov answered: "No, these operations have not passed any legitimization in the eyes of the resistance. We were simply horrified by what they did in Beslan."

On the other hand, Babitsky asked Umarov about accusations that he was involved in kidnappings-for-ransom during the period between Chechnya's two wars. Umarov said that as the secretary of the separatist Security Council, then president Aslan Maskhadov sent him around Chechnya to stem opposition from warlords like Arbi Baraev, who was involved in the hostage-for-ransom business, and "because of these contacts I began to be accused of it." Umarov said he told Maskhadov that if he is found guilty of hostage-taking in court, "I shall not lift a finger to protect myself…Show me at least one fact." He then added: "But look today, those people who especially succeeded in slave trading, where are these people now?" Umarov referred to Movladi Baisarov, the head of an armed unit loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov who has been widely accused of kidnappings, and to Sulim Yamadaev, head of the GRU-connected Vostok battalion. Still, Babitsky noted that Umarov's answer did not "dispel doubts" about his own role in kidnappings and that Umarov will have to answer to "more detailed" accusations in the future.

Umarov also conceded that the Russian and pro-Moscow Chechen forces had been able to eliminate a significant portion of the rebels' original command structure. "That's life," he said. "Maybe I won't be around tomorrow. That's life; we're not immortal, we're not gods. Life goes on. We, the old, must give up our places; how many young people are waiting on line to take these places. There's no such thing as war without losses. Maskhadov and others have left on the path to Allah. Maskhadov's place has been taken by [Abdul-Khalim] Saidulaev, 38-years-old, young, full of energy, smart. Tomorrow someone from among these young people can take my place; he'll be even better than me…[There have been] big losses. Basically, I did not consider them to be so appreciable before Mashadov's death; simply Mashadov's death was a great loss. And so in general each commander that dies, in his place immediately – maybe I'm not fair to the dead, but younger, more energetic people take their places and the loss is forgotten rather quickly. You don't forget, of course, your brothers, your friends, but their places are taken by more forceful, energetic people." According to Umarov, all of his close relatives, including his wife and six-month-old child, his brother, his father-in-law and his wife's brother, have been kidnapped.

On the other hand, Umarov insisted his forces have inflicted heavy losses on federal forces, and cited an incident in which, he claimed, rebels killed 38 members of a 39-man GRU unit in a battle that took place in the Itum-Kale district.

Of equal interest in the Umarov interview were Andrei Babitsky's own observations. "I was really amazed at how freely the Chechen guerrillas move in the woods, not looking around, not observing any apparent precautionary measures," he said. "When I was here two years ago, the atmosphere was completely different. The Chechens expected an attack every second, spent entire days preparing for it. There were entrenchments, guards protecting the camp round the clock in any weather. Nothing of the kind happens now. The mood of the camp is more reminiscent of a rest quarters for hunters. Only the remote rumble of a spy plane reminds one of war. ‘Today we move rather freely,' Umarov says. There often arises a situation in which two groups, Chechen and Russian, run into each other in the woods and part without engaging. Nobody needs superfluous victims."

Still, Babitsky also noted that the rebels still find it necessary to take some precautions. "For example, the Chechens do not use mobile [telephone] communications in the mountains at all or use it [only] in extreme cases even though each has a receiver," he wrote. "Coming upon a forest, they shake the battery out of it, since, according to their assertions, even a switched-off phone equipped with a battery can be tapped and its bearings taken. And the bearings define the point from which a call has been made within a radius of 20 meters and in literally ten minutes an artillery strike can be made on it. Russian artillery units are situated in the republic so that they can cover any position with fire from four different disposition locations. ‘These days in Chechnya there is a full moon,' some Chechens told me. ‘At such a time we move at night in the woods in small groups, inasmuch as the Russian military forces have various devices with which they can easily trace our movements.'"