Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Russia Explosions
Backcountry Conservative has more on this here.
Adding to the discussion, I received this email from David Rybicki who is in Moscow
IF you haven't already heard about the airplane explosions in Russia, I'm
your in-country correspondent here to give you the freshest update straight
out of Moscow:

The Russian authorities are on the verge of declaring the two plane explosions last night over southern Russia a coordinated terrorist attack.

Both planes exploded almost simultaneously, with confirmation by ground witnesses that the Tu-134 exploded in midair. Both planes took off from the same runway, Domodedovo airport.

The wreckage of the Tu-154 is being examined, but they're talking explosion. Also, the Tu-154 crew managed to send out a signal shortly before explosion that the plane had been seized by terrorists. 88 dead in both explosions with passenger lists already distributed publicly.

No foreign citizens on either plane, but who care's since Chechens, Dagestanis and North Ossetians all carry Russian passports! Presence of Saudi citizens is not the sine qua non of airplane terrorism.

Normally, Russian planes just dropping out of the sky can be pretty reliably tagged on the embarrassing, gradual rust-out of post-Soviet infrastructure and poor maintenance (e.g., the Kursk nuclear sub sank due to explosion of a faulty torpedo, not due to collision with a phantom American submarine, as was initially reported in Russian media). These explosions, I think, cannot rationally be attributed to a coincidental event. Also, I know from personal experience that Russian airport security for domestic flights is basically non-existant.

My theory, which may be total bullsh#$: Chechen presidential elections are scheduled for this Saturday (Chechnya's first president Akhmad Kadyrov was killed in a terrorist explosion at a soccer match in May, a death which represented a major blow to Kremlin authority in Chechnya). Russian media have bombarded the country over the weekend with a Kadyrov love-fest: program featuring Putin's personal musings on the great man Kadyrov on the occasion of the late president's birthday; hour-long Kadyrov encomium on Rossia TV channel; every baby in Groznyj hospital born last Sunday named Akhmad (I think there were maybe 4, but it's still symbolicaly significant when it makes the national NTV 7pm news, don't you think?); unveiling of Kadyrov monument in Groznyj; renaming of main street in Gudermes (Chechnya's second city) in honor of Kadyrov; renaming of street in Moscow, contrary to city ordinance requiring a minimum ten-year period between death and renaming, in honor of Kadyrov; Kadyrov museum opened in Groznyj; Putin meets with Kadyrov, Jr. in Sochi. I.e., all part of Moscow's "get out the vote" campaign for "our new man in Groznyj who will continue Kadyrov's Kremlin-friendly policies and get the bad guys." Chechen terrorists, like their Al Qaeda instructors, are strategic about timing terrorist attacks and I think it's reasonable at this point to postulate that this is another timed challenge to the flexing of federal muscle in the upcoming election. Last huge attack in Chechnya (van full of TNT driven into government building and detonated) was in Dec 2002 in antipation of a referendum.

Don't we have an election coming up in Nov.?

No comments: