February 1, 2014

Sochi seems a strange place to hold the Olympic games. First, it’s almost subtropical. To find snow, one must travel up to the Caucasus mountains.

The Black Sea resort is charming and exotic.
But Sochi is a beach resort. No one knows if there will be enough snow for the skiing and snowboarding events being held on the low mountains behind.

Let me stop here and say that I consider all Olympic games a titanic waste of money that leave behind white elephant buildings and debts that never get paid off. Bread and circuses. Russia is blowing over $3 billion on this extravaganza. The games are just a huge commercial jamboree with faux patriotic overtones.

Second, there is the big security scare facing Russia from violent militants in the North Caucasus. The US government, trying to rain on Vlad Putin’s parade, actually warned American visitors to take extreme caution or just not go to Sochi because of the dangers of “terrorism.”

Two US destroyers have been sent to the Black Sea to evacuate Americans. As if Russia, which defeated Nazi Germany and Japan’s China armies, could not handle handful of attackers.

Sour grapes. Going to a sports game in any large US city is much more dangerous than Sochi, which has been turned into a fortress. Give me Sochi over Detroit or Houston any day.

Western audiences are warned that “terrorism” stalks the North Caucasus without being told why. It’s the same story as so-called terrorism in the Mideast. The crime is trumpeted; its causes obscured.

In my book, “American Raj,” I wrote of the 300- year struggle of the Caucasian tribes against Russian occupation, notably Chechen and Dagestanis. The chapter was entitled, “Genocide in the Caucasus.”

The Sochi games are being held in close to where Soviet leader Josef Stalin had 2.5 million Caucasian and Crimean Muslims murdered or deported. This terrible crime still haunts the region.

In 1877, Imperial Russia killed 40% of the Chechen population, then about 220,000 people. The Russians expelled 400,000 Cherkass (Circassians), most to the Ottoman Empire.

In 1937, Stalin, surnamed the “Breaker of Nations,” ordered his NKVD secret police to shoot 14,000 Chechen. Stalin, a Georgian, hated the neighboring Chechen.

Seven years later, Stalin had the entire Chechen nation rounded up, stuffed into unheated rail cars in the dead of winter and then dumped onto the frozen wastes of Kazakhstan. Half died of exposure or disease.

Other Muslim peoples followed into the gulag: Tatars from Crimea, Ingush, Karachai, Balkars, Uzbeks, Tajiks., and Dagestanis. After the war, the battered survivors of this genocide filtered back to their homes, only to find that they had been seized by non-Muslims.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Chechen demanded independence from Moscow – just like Ukraine, the Baltic and Central Asian states. Russia’s new leader, Boris Yeltsin, refused and sent in his army to crush the Chechen. Russia’s shelling and bombing of tiny Chechnya killed an estimated 100,000 civilians. Amazingly, the invading Russian army was defeated and driven out by Chechen fighters.

Dzhokar Dudayev, the moderate Chechen leader, was assassinated in April, 2006 by the Russian FSB thanks to technology reportedly supplied by the US National Security Agency. All the moderate Chechen leaders were assassinated, leaving only a handful of extreme militants. The US largely financed Yeltsin’s war.

One of the young Chechen who bombed the Boston Marathon in April, 2013 was named Dzhokar. Just a coincidence?

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s new leader, launched a second invasion of Chechnya and crushed its resistance fighters, who were successfully branded “terrorists” by the US and Russian media. Attacks by Chechen vengeance-seekers on Russian aircraft, a train, and a Moscow theater seemed to confirm the Chechen simply as terrorists. An attack on a school at Beslan that still remains mysterious, delegitimized the Chechen cause.

From 1991 to 2010, 25% of Chechnya’s people, Chechen and Russian, died in the savage repression. Today, a puppet regime of Chechen quislings rules Chechnya for Moscow.

Resistance against Russian rule still sputters on in the forests of Chechnya, neighboring Ingushetia, and Dagestan. Chechen leader Doku Umarov warns Moscow, “you will feel what we feel.”

Russia’s repression in the Caucasus and those seeking vengeance will haunt the Sochi games.
copyright Eric S. Margolis 2014

This post is in: Caucasus, Russia, Soviet Union


  1. solum temptare possumus says:

    I fear it is to late to mend this fence.
    There is no Tito to hold the bitter ideological/religious factions together in a Pan Yugoslavia. Why the US would help the Russian Federation is beyond me. Would not a festering thorn in its underbelly be in the “Long term interests” of the US and western Europe?
    Genocide is inexcusable. Old Soviet Athiestic Russians who still lament the loss of Stalinist times refuse to admit the atrocities perpetrated by this paranoid dictator. Stalin’s contribution to the end of fascism in 1945 is beyond reproach. But at the cost of approximately 15 million people; military and civilian, it leaves a bitter taste. I think another Soviet leader could have given the same result, without the mass forced emmigration of a Caucasian minority. But as a dictator and a Georgian, during wartime, he had the Method, Motive and the Opportunity to foment his hatred. The Bully wanting his fix will always single out the weakest in the schoolyard.
    Just because the Chechens slowly converted to Sunni Islam over 2 centuries beginning in the 15th century does not equate defending ones home and family with Islam.
    The timing of a catastrophe perpetrated by generations of hatred is not a matter of IF but WHEN. And the Sochi Winter Olympics are on our doorstep.
    CAPUT capita declinaverunt frustra a iusto – Let Cooler Heads Prevail
    ad iudicium

  2. Checheyn seperatists were accused of the most horrendous crimes in 1999, when entire civilian buildings with sleeping Russians were blown up by apparent terrorists. Russia was drumming up public support for the operations in Chechnya, a war that ordinary Russians were opposed to.

    A journalist, a former FSB employee and noted parliamentarians accused the government of orchestrating the bombings with evidence that would convince the toughest of skeptics. All three died in very mysterious circumstances. The entire cycle repeated itself after the Beslan hostage crisis, when hundreds of school children were killed. Again, mounting evidence of government complacency resulted in journalists and government employees who dared to think, disappear and turn up deader than door nails.

    Leading members of the Duma, Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin led calls for an investigation. Sergie and Yuri continued their own investigation and collected materials that would prove government involvement. Sergie was found murdered just hours before boarding a flight to the United States where he was to meet with FBI officials in 2003. His colleague Yuri was shot outside his home and the culprits never caught.

    Mikhail Trepashkin, a prominent lawyer, claimed to have found that in the weeks leading up to the bombings, the basement of one of the bombed buildings was rented by FSB officer Vladimir Romanovich and that the latter was witnessed by several people. Mr. Trepashkin was unable to bring the alleged evidence to the court because he was arrested in October 2003 for illegal arms possession, just a few days shortly before he was to make his findings public. Shortly upon his release, Mikhail Trepashkin was killed while abroad in Cyprus and once again, the killers remain at large.

    Journalist Anna Politkovskaya and former Russian security service member Alexander Litvinenko, who investigated the bombings, were both assassinated in 2006. Both personalities garnered international attention because of their vocal and public accusations against the FSB for orchestrating the 1999 Moscow apartment explosions.

    Stalinist Democracy?

  3. Ignoring what is happening in Russia is the price the west is paying for Russia’s support for the greatest money making fraud in history, the imaginary war on terror.

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