Russia: September 5, 2004


Russian president Putin gave a nationwide speech about the Chechen terrorist raid in North Ossetia. He blamed corruption for the failure of the security forces to detect and stop the terrorists. Although the Interior Ministry has more troops than the army, most are conscripts and known to be too willing to take a bribe to let anyone through a checkpoint. Most of the bribers are criminals smuggling something (goods, people, weapons). But the Interior Ministry troops (or police) will take money from Chechens or foreigners, who could easily be terrorists. 

The death toll in  North Ossetia is now 330 and climbing. More facts about the raid are becoming known, the most startling one that weapons and explosives had been hidden, in advance, beneath the floor in one of the school buildings. This terrorist operation was apparently planned by the group led by Shamil Basaev, a Chechen leader who wants an Islamic republic in Chechnya, and eventually, all of the Caucasus. Basaev has launched large scale attacks like this before, but has never killed as many civilians. Basaev has some followers (Islamic radicals) throughout the Caucasus, which is largely Moslem. But these armed religious fanatics are a minority in the region, although a ruthless and savage one. 

Putin's call for a fight against corruption is nothing new. In addition, Putin recalled that when the Soviet Union existed, there was no terrorism. But there was corruption back then, although the Soviet police state restricted movement of people enough to keep terrorism in check. Moreover, the Soviet Union provided considerable support for terrorist groups, with the understanding that there would be no attacks in the Soviet Union. The world is different today, and Putin says that Russia will adapt and the Chechen terrorists will be crushed. This probably means more death and destruction in Chechnya, and more hardship for Chechens living throughout Russia. But unless you can make the Interior Ministry troops honest, the terrorists will still be able to strike. 


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