5 April 2010 – published in Huffington Post on April 8, 2010.

Chechen suicide bombers hit Moscow’s subway last week, killing 39 and injuring over 70. Chechen suicide bombers in Dagestan killed twelve, mostly policemen. There were further attacks in the region.

The North Caucasus was again at a boil.

The Moscow subway attacks were reportedly staged by two `black widows’ – wives or daughters of Chechen independence fighters killed or raped by the Russians (Russians call them `Islamic terrorists’ and `bandits’). They took their revenge in Moscow last week, as often in recent years.

Chechen are Russia’s nemesis. Even the notoriously brutal Russian mafia fears the ferocious Chechen, and for good reason.

Last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proudly proclaimed that resistance to Russian rule in the North Caucasus had been eliminated. The region was pacified, he claimed.

Last week’s bloody attacks seriously rattled Russians and left the Kremlin deeply embarrassed and enraged.

The latest Chechen leader, Doku Umarov – all his predecessors were liquidated by Russia – claimed from his hideout in the Caucasus mountains that the subway attacks were reprisal for the recent killing of Chechen civilians by Russian security forces.

He warned Moscow, `we will make you feel what we feel.’

In recent years, Chechen `black widows’ have brought down two civilian airliners. Other Chechen hijacked an entire Moscow theater, and derailed the “Alexander Nevsky” Express that runs from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Chechen are a tiny but fierce North Caucasian mountain people of Indo-European origin. They, and other Muslim Caucasian tribes, such as Dagestanis and Cherkass
(Circassians), have battled Russian imperial rule for the past 300 years.

In 1877, Imperial Russia killed 40% of the Chechen population of about 220,000. Four hundred thousand Cherkass were expelled.

Stalin, from neighboring Georgia, hated Chechen. He divided Chechnya, creating the republic of Ingushetia. Then, in July 1937, his secret police, NKVD, shot 14,000 Chechen.

In 1944, Stalin ordered the entire Chechen people rounded up and shipped in cattle cars to his Siberian concentration camps or dumped to perish into icy fields. Other Muslims followed: Ingush, Tatars, Karachai, Balkars, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks.

Neither bullets nor gas chambers were needed in Stalin’s death camps. A third of the prisoners died each year from cold, starvation or disease in the concentration camps. In all, some 2.5 million Soviet Muslims were murdered by Stalin, ‘the Breaker of Nations,’ including half of the entire Chechen people.

In my new book, “American Raj,” I entitle the section on the Chechen, “Genocide in the Caucasus.”

Gulag survivors filtered back to Chechnya. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chechen demanded independence like the Soviet republics.

Instead, Boris Yeltsin’s government invaded Chechnya, killing some 100,000 Chechen civilians through massive carpet bombing and shelling. Chechen leader Dzhokar Dudayev was assassinated, reportedly thanks to telephone homing equipment supplied Moscow by the US National Security Agency.

President Bill Clinton actually lauded Boris Yeltsin’s as “Russia’s Abraham Lincoln.”

Incredibly, Chechen fighters managed to defeat Russia’s army and won de facto independence.

But in 1999, apartment buildings in Russia were bombed, killing some 200 people, and creating a national panic.
Chechen `terrorists’ were immediately blamed. But there was disturbing evidence that government agents staged the bombing to justify invading Chechnya.

Moscow media reported that a group of Federal Security Service ( FSB – the successor to the KGB’s internal security service) agents were caught red-handed planting explosives in an apartment building. They claimed the explosives were merely bags of “sugar,” part of a “test.”

An ex-FSB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, joined other critics in accusing the government of a false flag operation in staging the attacks to justify a new war against the Chechen. In 2006, Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London.

Litvinenko also accused the Kremlin of being behind the murder of the crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She told me before her death that she was marked for assassination by the government because of her stinging exposés of Russia’s human rights violations in Chechnya.

FSB chief Vladimir Putin was catapulted into power by the anti-Chechen hysteria caused by the mysterious bombings. Two years later, the eerily similar 9/11 attacks would similarly turn George Bush from a non-entity into a hero, and provide a pretext for the US to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

Powerful Russian forces invaded and crushed the life out of Chechen resistance. All moderate Chechen leaders were assassinated, the last in Qatar in 2004, leaving mostly militant Islamists. A Moscow-installed Chechen puppet regime imposed a rein of terror upon the population, using torture, murder, mass reprisals, hostages and rape.

The world ignored these violations but paid rapt attention to another crime, the death of over 300 Russian child hostages in the still murky school massacre at Beslan.

The outside world totally ignored the death of another 100,000 Chechen after Moscow successfully branded them, `Islamic terrorists.’ A quarter of the Chechen people, Muslims and Russians, died from 1991 until 2010, not counting Stalin’s mass murder. But Chechen keep fighting on.

Moscow worries insurrection is spreading across its soft Caucasus underbelly. President Dimitri Medvedev made laudable efforts to humanize Russia’s rule there. But after the subway atrocity, Putin and Medvedev vow to `destroy’ remaining resistance in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Moscow should end this historical tragedy by granting Chechnya independence. Doing so is of course risky: it could spark demands by other Caucasian Muslims for independence, and enflame some of Russia’s 20 million-strong Muslim minority – though most still appear content to live in the Russian Federation.

An independent Chechnya could also open another door to growing US penetration of the Caucasus and campaign to encircle Russia. The US and Russia came frighteningly close to a head-on clash over Georgia. The Cold War has not ended.

An independent Chechnya would be unstable and violent. But that is better than the savagery and atrocities that this terrible conflict continues to generate.

Modern Russia should set the Chechen free.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2010

This post is in: Caucasus, Russia

8 Responses to “Chechnya: “We Will Make You Feel What We Feel””

  1. dormus jessop says:

    I haven’t heard many point out the USA and its insane rhettoric calling the pot bomb a WMD and would be laughable if not for the repeated use in the media without ANY qualms at the ridiculous charge. If thats the standard used to call something a WMD (WMD’s always meant nukes untill 911 and was conveniently changed for the phony invasion of Iraq) how many WMD’s has the USA unleashead in the middle east? Orwell must be spinning in his grave

  2. A really interesting article in Reuters:
    The problems can be frightening and latent…

  3. Media coverage ensured that we all felt how horrific the Boston Marathon bombings were, with 3 people killed and 282 injured.

    But on that very same day, 60 people died in a wave of bombings in Bagdhad, Iraq. That’s 20 times more people killed, and probably some 20 times more people injured as well. How many of us felt as horrific about that as we did for the Boston bombings? How many of us even had a clue that that had happened?

    Canada’s national newscast, The National, for one, completely failed to mention it in their hour-long program. Competing CTV National News, with their half-hour newscast, did.

    Relating this to the article’s title, “We Will Make You Feel What We Feel”, the coverage of the Boston events gave us a small sense of what people must feel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. where this kind of hell now happens monthly, weekly, or daily. It’s possibly no longer just some abstract number, 60 dead, heard in passing on the news, but not felt, not given any thought.

    On the news tonight, it was reported that the two brothers were motivated by the US wars and intervention in those places.

    Could a sense of “We Will Make You Feel What We Feel” have been a part of their motivation?

    Could it be that many if not most events like this are in some part motivated by “We Will Make You Feel What We Feel”?

    • Bludgeoning our minds with “They hate us for our freedoms”, again and again and again, keeps us away from the little word “revenge”. It’s very hard to deny that we might be a little bit inclined towards revenge ourselves.

  4. Things are getting worse, using Boston as an excuse the Canadian government is preparing to pass a new law that will allow police to arrest and imprison people without having to bother with such nuisances as charges, lawyers, evidence, or trials. By pure coincidence they just “happened” to uncover a terrorist plot on the day it began debate. (With all the red flags, links to Iran and Al Quaida) The only party which is going to stand up to it are the New Democrats and predictably the government is accusing them of being “soft on terrorism”.

    • Mike Smith says:

      Sad thing is people are going to believe this… even though it was so poorly set up.
      I am amused by Irans reaction ( thought the same thing )

      Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said it was “ridiculous” to suggest any connection between al-Qaeda and Tehran.

      “This is the most hilarious thing I’ve heard in my 64 years,” Mr Salehi told the Iranian Isna news agency.

      Al-Qaeda – a militant Salafist Islamic movement – preaches a radical anti-Shia ideology that is seen as placing it firmly at odds with Shia Iran.
      Analysts say Iran’s links with al-Qaeda are shadowy and complex.
      Anything to blame Iran I guess…
      and unless these guys had explosives… are they guilty of anything more than running off at the mouth and being Muslim?

  5. Isn’t it amazing how fast the Boston Bombers went from being Chechnyans to Russians to cover up the devil’s deal America made with Russia? To turn a blind eye to the atrocities Russia did in Chechnya in return for Moscow’s support for the imaginary war on terror.

    • Mike Smith says:

      Turning a blind eye is one thing…
      Offering support is another. As this article speculated the NSA providing support to the Russians is the tip of the iceberg. All the central Asian dictators is the US pocket are is areas that traditionally supported or allowed support to pass to Chechnya, all that changed with the US moving in cutting Chechnya off from external support and assistance. Plus the political cover provided by the Americans prevent any other country from making an issue at either the UN or the Hague.
      If the world was only a neighborhood, the US would again be an accessory to murder, and Chechnya has some very justified anger towards the US. Only in this neighborhood, the laws and police are in place to protect the guilty and justice is a lame joke. A one paragraph summary of the origins of the so called war on ( of ) terror.
      Just think, the upcoming winter Olympics will be held in this very neighborhood.

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