Blood on Putin's hands
It is now absolutely clear that the deaths resulting from the actions of the Russian special forces in ending the Moscow theatre siege far outnumber those killed by the Chechen suicide fighters.
A statement by Andrei Seltsovsky, chairman of the health committee of the city of Moscow, that only two of the dead hostages were killed by gunshot wounds places the blame for the casualties squarely on the Russian government and its armed forces.
Seltsovsky said that the other 116 hostages confirmed dead by Monday had died of gas poisoning. Another 150 are languishing in hospital, many of them still critically ill. The authorities are still refusing to tell doctors the nature of the gas used to stun the hostage takers while troops entered the building.
Chemical warfare experts believe it may be nerve gas or BZ which has hallucinogenic properties, possibly a type banned under international treaty.
Other facts are emerging about the siege, which prove that Putin and the military at no time considered the option of entering into serious negotiations about a non-violent way of ending the siege.
The bottom line is that it is the prolonged and brutal occupation of Chechnya by Russian forces which led inexorably to the showdown and deaths in Moscow.
Russian forces have killed tens of thousands of Chechens and Russians in the capital city, Grozny and other areas over the past decade. Grozny, once a modern city of hundreds of thousands, was virtually razed to the ground by mass bombardment.
A report by the Society for Russian-Chechen Relations in collaboration with Human Rights Watch documented that in one month alone – between July and August this year – 59 civilians were shot dead, 64 abducted, 168 seriously wounded and 298 tortured.
The horrific activities of the Omon and Spetsnaz special forces, which commonly include rape and torture, and the blowing up of victims, have continued since the first Chechen war which began in December 1994.
After a decade of terror against not only the separatist fighters, but the civilian population, a new generation of Chechen commanders has grown up who have moved away from the more secular moderation of older leaders like Aslan Maskhadov.
The nationalist resistance of the mid 1990s did not lead to a separate state or the departure of Russian troops. Extreme desperation combined with the lack of a revolutionary secular alternative has left the field open for a mystical form of Islamic Jihad and individual terrorism aimed at innocent Russians seen in the Moscow siege.
The suicide bombers in Moscow were young men and women who felt that death was a better way out than life under the present conditions.
As relatives and friends gathered outside the Moscow theatre on Friday, about 100 demonstrated for an end to the occupation of Chechnya, supporting the hostage-takers’ original demand. The protest was quickly banned with some demonstrators being detained by police. Some who had previously supported Putin’s war against the Chechens, said they now believed Russian troops should leave Chechnya and “let them live as they want to live”, in the words of one 28-year-old worker.
on in the siege, one agonised relation shouted at the television camera
that “First Putin killed our sons by sending them to Chechnya. Now he
is killing other Russians by not taking our troops out.”
The argument used by Putin, supported by Blair and the British media, is that violently breaking the siege was the least of all evils, and may have saved hundreds of lives by preventing the Chechens from blowing up the entire theatre.
But the entire event would not have taken place if Russian forces had withdrawn from Chechnya in the first place and Chechens granted the right to self-determination.
Putin’s dirty war in Chechnya is financially assisted by global capitalist leaders. He can keep his weapons of mass destruction, use chemical weapons against his own people and oppress minorities with the blessing of the White House and Downing Street. Their hypocrisy and double standards knows no bounds.
Blair and Bush have an agreement with Putin that allows him to do what he likes in Chechnya as long as Russia doesn’t interfere with their "war on terrorism" and the plan to bomb and occupy Iraq.
why Blair was on the telephone twice during and after the siege to express
his support. He congratulated the Russian president in the House of
Commons even as the casualty figures due to the gassing of hostages
were rising. Putin, the butcher of Chechnya, can continue to count Blair
as a close ally.