Release Date: January 9, 2000
Eric Margolis, c/o Editorial Department, The Toronto Sun
333 King St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3X5
Fax: (416) 960-4803 -- Press Contact: Eric Margolis

Coup Detat in Moscow Anointed with Chechen Blood

by Eric Margolis

PARIS -- A month ago, this column predicted that Russian hardliners were on the verge of seizing total power in a `stealthy coup. Twenty-six days later, President Boris Yeltsin stunned the world by resigning and handing over power to a junta of KGB `Chekists and senior generals led by former spy and now Acting President, Vladimir Putin.

Yeltsin agreed to resign in return for immunity for himself and his family from prosecution for massive corruption. The era of Weimar Russia was ended, and the wests $100 billion plus investment in Yeltsins `democratic Russia a total loss. The Clinton Administration and its media backers tried to cover up the magnitude of this catastrophe by echoing Russian propaganda claims that Putin and his cronies were `clean; `youthful reformers; `covert democrats, and crusaders against terrorism.

Far from reform, what we are seeing in Moscow is the seizure of political and, increasingly, economic power by younger generation of KGB officers, like Putin, from the old First Chief Directorate(Foreign Intelligence). Forget the beetle-browed KGB thugs of the 1950s. These 80s and 90s vintage agents, particularly those from KGB Lines PR and X, are hard-edged, sophisticated, worldly professionals.

Putin and his junta gained power by whipping up traditional Russian racial and religious hatred for Muslim Chechen, then launching a merciless campaign to exterminate the Caucasian rebels. Moscow, in the usual style of international malefactors, used the Christmas/New Year holidays to mask its attempted storming of the Chechen capital, Grozny, and laying waste to the rest of the tiny republic of 1.5 million people.

The valiant Chechen mujihadin, however, refused to surrender. Some 1,500 Chechen fighters dug into the ruins of Grozny have managed to defend the city against ferocious assaults of some 60,000-80,000 Russian troops for the past month. Russian generals claimed the would conquer Grozny two weeks ago.

Russian forces are mercilessly pounding the city to rubble with massed batteries of heavy artillery and heavy rocket launchers, as well as carpet bombing and strikes by ground-attack aircraft and helicopter gunships. Forty thousand Chechen civilians are trapped in the city, cowering in shelters with little food or water.

Russia is violating all norms of warfare and numerous international conventions by making extensive use of fuel air explosive delivered by aircraft and rockets. These weapons release a fine mist of explosive fuel over a target, then detonate. The resulting massive explosions are of enormous destructive power second only to tactical nuclear weapons. All of the oxygen under the blast zones football-filed sized footprint is burned up, sucking the air out of the lungs of victims. Devastating overpressure ruptures internal organs and kill anyone sheltering in basements or bunkers.

Grozny and most other Chechen towns have been blasted to ruins by fuel air and conventional explosives. The Russians have showered tens of thousands of anti-personnel mines in the mountainous south in an effort to seal the border with Georgia. Foreign journalists are being kept out of the war zone lest they report details of Russias latest slaughter of the rebellious Chechen. Even this writer has received a steady stream of organized threatening email from Russia. Almost all news on the conflict comes from Moscows propaganda organs who keep repeating the mantra that Chechen are `Islamic terrorists where have we heard this before - who must be `cleansed.

Ironically, while the US wrung its hands over the possible threat of terrorism during millenium celebrations, Russia was committing one of the worst acts of international terrorism of our era in Chechnya. Washington issued a few tut-tuts over Russias brutal actions, but continued to back Russia with diplomatic support and billions of cash.

As Russian poured shells on the Chechen for daring to seek independence from 300 years of brutal colonial rule by Moscow, President Bill Clinton actually described Russias siege of Grozny a `liberation. The same Clinton who hailed Yeltsin as `a Russian Abraham Lincoln after Russian forces massacred 100,000 Chechen in 1994-1996.

Why this nauseating sycophancy? Because Clinton agreed to give Moscow a free hand in Chechnya in exchange for Moscow allowing the US to keep bashing away at Iraq. Clintons key financial backers want Iraq destroyed. Chechen will pay the price for the ex-presidents political and financial future.

Meanwhile, bands of fierce Chechen fighters continue one of our eras most heroic struggles. The courage of these mountain men is almost beyond comprehension. They are lightly armed, surrounded, low on munitions and supplies, hopelessly outnumbered 100 to one, under constant bombardment, and forgotten. Their voice goes unheard beneath a barrage of Russian disinformation and propaganda, echoed by so-called `counter-terrorism experts in the western media, who assure us Chechen are nothing more than dangerous Islamic terrorists and kidnappers.

A handful of fighters from Ukraine, Jordan, and the Baltic have come to help; otherwise, the world has left the Chechen to be ground into bloody pulp by Russias killing machine a crime largely financed by US and western dollars.

Clinton has hailed the Putin regime as `new, democratic Russian leaders. In fact, the Chekists and generals now running the Kremlin look very much like the old, brutal Soviet Russia, only this time less ideological and more efficiently ruthless.

[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada.]

Copyright © 2000 Eric Margolis - All Rights Reserved
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