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Terror in Russia: causes and effects


Every tragedy is a horrible thing, but it will inevitably be repeated unless correct conclusions are made. I stress: the correct ones. The authorities’ actions, the analysis and commentary by journalists and analysts concerning the events in Beslan indicate unequivocally that incorrect conclusions were made in this case. Therefore, the actions taken are likewise incorrect. This means that terror will continue in Russia. Russia, or at least the so-called thinking part of its population, proved unable to understand the causes of the tragedy, and thus the country is doomed to further disintegration, doomed to fall out of world history. Presented below is proof of this sad postulate.

For starters, here is a little information.

Beslan and the population’s reaction

In early September of 2004, a tragedy took place in Russia. In the small city of Beslan, located in North Ossetia, terrorists occupied a school, taking about 1,200 hostages (schoolchildren and their parents). The outcome was tragic: about 400 people were killed, including about 200 children; over 400 were wounded, and some 200 are listed as missing. Despite the horror of this event, less than a month later the Russian society was back in its “normal rut”, while the mass media – primarily their liberal-democratic part – concentrated on the issue of the Putin regime’s slide into authoritarianism. Such forgetfulness on the Russians’ part may seem strange to foreign readers. However, those who know the real situation in Russia see nothing strange about this behavior of the Russian society. The essence of the matter is this:

Since the start of the second Chechen War in late 1999, through October 2004 the losses of the Russian Army and special forces in Chechnya total 4,700 men. By comparison, Israel, which has practically been waging war against the Arabs of Palestine since the start of the Intifada in 1997, lost 800 servicepeople in that time. Between 1994 and August 2004, there were 128 terrorist attacks in Russia, in which 2,279 people were killed and 4,396 wounded (apparently, these numbers include civilians only. – Source: Komsomol’skaya Pravda, 27.10.2004.) In 2004 the number of terrorist attacks continued to increase: just in the two months prior to Beslan, the President of Chechnya was assassinated, the Ingushetia Republic was raided, and a number of attacks took place in the city of Grozny (capital of Chechnya); besides, from January through September 532 police officers were killed or wounded in Chechnya alone. In Moscow, a bus stop and a subway station were bombed, and two airliners were brought down by bombs; crude calculations show that about 200 people were killed in July-August alone.

Despite this stream of terrorist attacks, the majority of people who were not personally affected by these tragedies forget about them very quickly. After all, they have to remember always about other threats that they encounter daily. According to public opinion polls (in particular, the one conducted by VCIOM), over a third of the population are “very fearful” of terrorism, criminal attacks and unmotivated aggression, while a quarter of the population fears arbitrary actions of authorities. Should we add the entry for “simply fearful”, it will turn out that 85-90% of the population are constantly encountering four different kinds of threats, among which “terrorism” in pure form ranks the same as the arbitrariness of authorities (see: Novaya Gazeta, 15.03.2004). In other words, the people’s fears are distributed evenly between the different kinds of threats, among which fear of authorities ranks quite highly. It is not just the repressive qualities of authority that scare people; it is also the authority’s inability to ensure the citizens’ safety. The events in Beslan demonstrated this helplessness yet again.

Words

Mr. Putin explains the cause of the tragedy through two main factors: international terrorism and “our” inability (he says “we”, speaking for all of us) to understand or, more exactly, to adjust ourselves to the contradiction formed because "We are living at a time of an economy in transition, of a political system that does not yet correspond to the state and level of our society’s development." From this, in his opinion, follows all the rest: “we” failed to take something into account, to pay attention to something, to improve something, etc. Let me translate this Aesop-speak into plain language that anyone can understand.

“Economy in transition” – what is he talking about? In 1991 – 1993 a counterrevolution was carried out in Russia: pseudo-democratic in form, bourgeois in content. Russia switched very quickly (by historical standards) to the capitalist road of development, and a classic capitalist economy was formed in the land, based on private ownership of means of production. As a result, almost 80% of Russia’s economy ended up in private hands. The bourgeois class emerged; its top echelon, the so-called oligarchs, owns most of the national income. Experts estimate that just twenty “masters of the economy” control 62% of all sales and 30% of all employment. The World Bank estimates that 23 business groups control over a third of the country’s industry and 17% of all bank assets. According to The Times of London (13 May 2004), the combined income of just five oligarchs amounts to 12.8% of the country’s GDP. For comparison: in the USA the five richest people earn 1.2% of the GDP; in the UK, the figure is 0.89%. Reuters, quoting a press release by Forbes magazine, reports that the personal fortunes of the hundred richest entrepreneurs in Russia add up to a quarter of the nation’s economy. Naturally, there is something left in the hands of the bourgeois state (for example, Gazprom).

So where “the economy in transition”? It has transited already into the hands of the bourgeoisie, which, by the way, is perfectly self-aware as a class. Corresponding to this economy is a bourgeois political system, i.e. a power structure with all the attributes of bourgeois democracy (elected parliament, President, governors, etc.) Of course, this Russian bourgeois state differs from other capitalist states due to national and historical specificity.

I repeat: Russia is a capitalist state in every sense, with Russian specificity. The essence of this specificity is the closest possible bond between government and capital, i.e. the classical variant of state-monopolistic capitalism, known in the current historical conditions as state-oligarchic capitalism, close in its structure and form of functioning to the state-gangster capitalisms in the countries of Latin America. It is this model of criminal capitalism which in principle causes all the “failures” (to react, to manage, to handle in time, etc.) mentioned by Mr. Putin.

The gentleman also dropped this phrase: "We are living through a time when internal conflicts and interethnic contradictions that were once firmly suppressed by the ruling ideology have now flared up." This phrase means that the USSR had a ruling ideology, which, being “hard”, enabled the regime to suppress the contradictions mentioned. Thus, the President admits that today’s Russia has no ideology at all, therefore there is nothing left but to try suppressing “internal conflicts and interethnic contradictions” by force of arms and State Security. It follows that the President of Russia – the top dog – does not understand what kind of state he rules.

Now let us talk about "international terrorism". It really does exist, but in this connection I would like to draw your attention to the following: why is international terrorism directed primarily against the USA and its supporters? Why is this terrorism not waging war against China; why did it leave the former USSR alone? It is because it has no quarrel with those countries that do not steal the resources (primarily oil) of Arab states. Terrorism attacks Russia not just because Russia is weak, but also because Russia is a puppet of the USA in global politics. This is the first reason; the second reason is that Russia is itself a sponsor of international terrorism, same as the USA and a number of other countries of the West. Consider: whose weapons are the terrorists using to wage their war? They use weapons sold to them by corporations based in the USA, France, Germany and Russia. Russian officials have boasted many times recently that Russia has rebuilt its positions in the arms marketplace; it now holds third or maybe even second place. This is not just aircraft and warships for China, India or Malaysia; this is also so-called conventional weaponry that ends up in the hands of terrorists.

You want to terminate international terrorism? Stop selling arms abroad. Actually, ban all arms sales in general, of any kind. Terrorism will end then. However, this will not come to pass for as long as capital, i.e. the world capitalism, rules in the international arena. One has to understand an elementary truth: terrorism and capitalism are two sides of the same coin. Terrorism will exist for as long as capitalism exists. It follows from this that capitalist Russia is doomed to constant terror.

However, world capitalism is not scared of international terrorism. Moreover, under certain conditions, for certain purposes it can even make use of this terrorism – say, against the strategic adversaries of the West; for example, that same Russia. It is not scared because today’s international terrorism is a concentrated expression of feudalism’s struggle against imperialism, of a historically backward formation against the subsequent formation, i.e. capitalism. Feudalism never went without a fight, not even in Europe. In the Near and Middle East, it turned into militant Islamism for two reasons: firstly, a lot of oil was found in that region – to the locals’ detriment; secondly, this oil is controlled aggressively and insolently by American and British companies. A number of countries are no longer willing to put up with this insolence. Outwardly, it looks like a struggle between Allah and Christ, but in essence it is a struggle between feudal sheiks and imperialists for control of oil resources. Feudalism does not have the resources, technology or culture needed to wage a “civilized” war; this is why it chooses terrorism. The specificity of this method of war is that it does not target a concrete individual enemy, say, British Petroleum, but rather the entire system that defends British Petroleum, Gulf Oil or Texaco. From this perspective it matters not who gets killed: military personnel or civilians, adults or children. The war is waged against the imperialism that robs their countries.

I repeat: on the strategic level, this war does not really threaten the USA or its allies. What really does threaten them is a different system – the system of equal rights, the socialist system. Against that system, they fought mercilessly, for they realized that socialism is capable of putting an end to the worldwide robbery. This is exactly how it will happen in the historical perspective.

However, there is also the Russian terrorism, of which more will be said later. For the time being I will note only that the President’s Address testifies to the utter incompetence of Russia’ leadership who are incapable of understanding, in the President’s own words, “the complexity and danger of the processes that are taking place in their own country and in the world as a whole.”

The international aspect

In connection with the events in Beslan the President of Russia appealed to the Security Council of the United Nations, calling on its members to condemn the attack. The attack was duly condemned, but on the whole the reaction of the international community was not exactly what Moscow was counting on. Terrorists were condemned in this particular case, but no support was expressed for Putin’s policy in the North Caucasus region as a whole. This was particularly evident in the reaction of the USA and the UK. It was due to a large degree to yet another blunder committed by Moscow. I mentioned above that when Putin in his Address cited international terrorism as the second cause of the events in Beslan, he hinted that there are powers that want Russia weakened. Russian political scientists decoded the message: the power meant here is the USA. Perfectly naturally, the Western press saw this interpretation as an attempt by Putin to blame his own setbacks in Chechnya on the West. When a short while later Putin made public his intention to pass a law that would give the President the power to appoint governors (they are currently elected by the local population), the West perceived this step as Putin’s attempt to use the terrorist attack in Beslan as a pretext for strengthening his own authoritarian power. As a result, criticism of Russia’s policy in the North Caucasus increased substantially instead of dying down, especially in the American, British and Dutch press. Germany, France and Italy reacted more calmly. On the whole, Russia’s positions in the West worsened substantially, if one judges by the mass media rather than by individual statements of some politicians. This is also due to a large degree to the fact that the West suddenly realized that Russia’s leadership is incapable of resolving domestic problems on a “democratic” basis.    

A different stance was taken by China, which not only condemned the terrorists, but on the whole supports Putin’s policy in the Caucasus. China offered even to donate US$600,000 for “educational needs” in Chechnya. This stance is understandable, since from the perspective of China’s long-term policy Russia is a friendly state. From the geostrategic perspective, this approach is perfectly correct. For all that, China would do well to take into account certain peculiarities of today’s Russia.

The authority’s anti-terrorist measures

What lessons did the authority draw from the Beslan events? In concentrated form they were presented in the President's Decree "About the urgent measures for increasing the effectiveness of combating terrorism" of September 13, 2004. In all three points of this Decree, directed to all ministries and services that relate in one way or another to the problems of security, these structures are ordered to present in the space between two weeks and one month specific proposals for "regulating the situation in the territory of the North Caucasus region and on the creation of a system for prevention and liquidation of crisis situations in the territory of the Russian Federation."  All these directives boil down to the three “U” words habitually found in Russian official papers: “uluchshit’, uglubit’, uskorit’” (improve, deepen, accelerate).

The authority mentioned many times the necessity to improve the economic situation in Chechnya. The thing is, long before the events in Beslan huge sums were allotted for the rebuilding of the economy and payment of compensations for the homes destroyed in the fighting. According to the chairman of the government, since the year 2000 about 62 billion rubles (over US$2 billion) was assigned. The result was zilch. The Control Chamber discovered time after time that the funds earmarked for this or that object disappeared in some kind of “black hole”.

Yet there exists an even more difficult problem: armaments. Where do Russia’s terrorists get their weapons from? Many times the need was mentioned to tighten controls over the “corridor” of arms shipments. The question is, who is going to do the tightening? Independent experts found out that the terrorists buy 45% of their weapons from Russian military personnel, 30% - from Russia’s arms manufacturers, 20% - in CIS countries (mainly Georgia and Azerbaijan) and only 5% - in the rest of the world (the Arab countries, most likely). In other words, most of the terrorists’ needs are supplied by Russia itself.

Anger and irritation

Let us now see how the events are evaluated by Russia’s so-called public analysts. They can be divided into three groups: the first one is the patriots who see intrigues by foes from abroad; the second is the liberal democrats who are more concerned about “freedom of information”; the third one is the left-wingers who naturally see the roots of the tragedy in “the existing regime”.

Let us start with the patriots. I remind you a passage from the address: "Some would like to tear from us a “juicy piece of pie.” Others help them. They help, reasoning that Russia still remains one of the world’s major nuclear powers, and as such still presents a threat to them. And so they reason that this threat should be removed."  

It is not clear who are the “some” and who are the “others”. It fell to analysts and experts to explain it to the public. The weekly Argumenty I Fakty (AiF) (8 September 2004) published an interview titled “Who is behind the attack on Russia.” In the introductory part several foreign publications are quoted, and the conclusion is made that “we are essentially told to get out of North Caucasus”, so that they can establish their own “control over the Russian North Caucasus. … It is easy to guess who profits from this.” The authors of this section decline to decode their “guess”, giving popular Russian experts the opportunity to demonstrate the sharpness of their wits.

The widely known expert A. Dugin has had it all figured out for a while now: it’s the USA, of course. He tells the interviewer that the USA, which stands behind the acts of “international terrorism” against Russia, has also managed to sabotage, among other things, “the emerging axis Paris – Berlin – Moscow and the strategic union Moscow – Ankara due to the cancellation of V. Putin’s visit to Turkey; they destabilized the Caucasus region and the Southern direction as a whole.” Could “international terrorism” have managed all this on its own? – Mr. Dugin asks rhetorically. - No, of course not, Mr. Leader of the international Eurasian movement. In never even occurred to this terrorism, together with its supporter, the USA, that this terrible anti-American axis is taking shape, as well as the equally frightening strategic union between Russia and Turkey, which allegedly failed because of a trifle which was the cancellation of the Russian President’s visit to Ankara. I do believe that in Paris, Berlin and Ankara they would be very surprised to learn of their own intentions to ally themselves with Russia against their strategic ally. Such fantasies can only emerge in the Eastern Orthodox head of Mr. Dugin, who apparently has gone totally daft from his own geopolitical constructs. 

The political scientist S. Kurginyan expressed the same idea: the USA seeks to rearrange the world radically, and to this end it makes use of “the terroristic Islam”, since “this new world order ‘does not work out’ without ruination of Russia, among other things.” Another political scientist, S. Belkovsky, seconds his opinion: “international terrorism is a creature of the USA.” It turns out that American secret services are responsible for all the terrorist attacks of recent years, including 9/11, the bomb explosions in Spain, in Iraq, etc. (This political scientist, same as many others, never bothers to present any proof.) All this is done to justify the “superpower status” of America. Thousands of such statements can be found in Russia’s patriotic press.

Should we discard details and conjectures in the spirit of Mr. Dugin, they are all essentially correct: the USA is currently the sole superpower, the sole power center in the world, and it would love to solidify this status for a long time. Any means are acceptable for achieving this strategic goal. But should the USA be blamed for this? And it is not just about its might. The USA represents a classical variant of an imperialist state with a capitalist heart. Being imperialistic by nature, it cannot help being aggressive, expansionist, inclined toward wars, invasions, etc. Russia behaved in exactly the same fashion in its own imperialist past. Everything in this world is built on force, and force - be it in nature, in society, or in international relations - objectively always seeks to expand. Powerlessness provokes power to consume it; this was proven by Hegel in his time even on the ontological level. Mr. Putin was correct when he said: “The weak get beaten up.” The beating will continue until the weak one becomes strong. Leave all the whining about conscience and international law to Greenpeace and philanthropists. The famous classic (Karl Matx) was correct, as always, when he wrote: when two equal rights meet, force triumphs. Instead of accusing and condemning the USA, all these experts and analysts of the patriotic camp would do well to figure out the sources of Russia’s weakness, now that international terrorism is “hounded” on Russia.

Now a few words about the democrats who are wildly indignant that the authority lied and keeps lying about the number of “hostages” and “victims”. What else is the authority supposed to do if it failed, by the President’s own admission, to achieve anything in the years of its rule? What other reaction can be expected from a regime that sees the country’s population decline by up to a million people every year? The Committee “2008: Free Choice”, consisting mostly of former members of the Union of Right-wing Forces (the right-wing democrats, so to say) demands an independent investigation of the terrorist attacks and makes this statement: “We assert that the original cause of all recent terrorist attacks in Russia is precisely Vladimir Putin’s policy in the North Caucasus, in Chechnya in the first place. We assert that it is precisely Vladimir Putin who is responsible for all the victims of these horrendous crimes.” By the way, this is precisely the key in which the Western press evaluates the events in Beslan and Putin’s policy in the North Caucasus.

What else would you expect! It is precisely this line of attack, starting with the “anti-Soviet” activists like Sakharov, Kovalev et al., that shook loose the USSR – the number two power in the world. It is precisely capitalist values that are currently gaining strength in the weakened Russia. And if you do indeed favor purity over lies, then, gentlemen, heed the call of your hearts and reveal the truth about your incomes, about your hard labors (for the sake of the people whom you care about so much), about the possibilities for “earning” capital. It will turn out that your victims, your “hostages and dead” – in your case, the robbed and the maimed – will number several orders of magnitude more. Consider: every year Russia has a million fewer people. Divide 1,000,000 by 365 days. It turns out that 2739,7 people are “killed” every day by your beloved capitalism in Russia!!! There you have it, a figure that does not lie.

In actual fact, it is not Putin’s policy in the North Caucasus that is the original cause of terrorist attacks in Russia, and he is not solely responsible for all the victims of these attacks. The original cause of these attacks is the social-economic system built by these same democrats with the support of the West. All these people – Nemtsov, Hakamada and their ilk – appear to have lost their memories; for the war in the Caucasus was started by their boss Yeltsin, whom they served so faithfully. The democrats’ conclusions and recipes are either manifestations of their illiteracy or “bombs” directed at Russia, even though they supposedly oppose bombs. Could these well-fed gentlemen really have forgotten that all this mess in the Caucasus was started by yet another criminal – Mikhail Gorbachev, who opened the road to the bright capitalist tomorrow. Putin and his policies are merely an effect of the system that inevitably will keep on powering this vortex that sucks in Russia’s dwindling resources. You may put another leader in his place; it will change nothing for as long as the system is in place.

The course of reasoning presented above is normal for the democrats and for the West. Blinkered by the ideas of democracy and market economy, they are incapable of thinking differently. It is, however, surprising that left-wingers are reasoning along the same lines. Comrade A. Zyuganov, one of their main leaders, proclaimed in an expanded meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and its State Duma caucus:

 "The helplessness of the federal authority, the irresponsibility of the law enforcement ministries led to the terrible tragedy in Beslan, a series of terrorist attacks that keep shaking the country since late August. What is stunning is not only the appalling helplessness of the authority, of President Putin who exactly five years ago promised to deliver the country from the horrors of terrorism, but also the chaos and confusion in the actions of secret services, which were observed by the whole world in the course of the latest tragic events in North Ossetia. Also astounding are the shameless lies told by the official structures, which attempted yet again to mislead public opinion".

So did Comrade Zyuganov really expect that Putin’s ascent to power would change something in the country? Or perhaps that “the official circles” would start telling “the truth and nothing but the truth?” What is the leader of the political left showing here: naivety – or incompetence adequate to the level of the ruling top echelon? While the right-wingers are supposed to be misguided due to their ideological adherence to capitalism, the left-wingers who call themselves Communists have no excuse for not seeing the sources of “the helplessness of the federal authority”; their duty, by the way, is to fight this latter instead of cooperating with it, even in the Duma.

Utopias and God

So what does Russia’s intellectual elite suggest for finding a way out of the current situation, based on the President’s Address? (I won’t even mention the authority, whose solutions always boil down to the three “U” words: deepen, strengthen, improve).

S. Karaganov: "What’s needed is a modernization of all enforcement structures, but mainly we need a general coordinating structure." –  This one repeats the President’s word: improve.

S. Belkovsky: "Restoration of the country’s unity – this is primarily a question of forming a new elite, of radical harsh rearrangements in the entire system of executive authority." – This young man apparently forgot how many times rearrangements were made in the structure of executive authority, how many times some ministries were liquidated, then restored. The State Security Committee (KGB) alone was rearranged five times, if I remember correctly. And who do we form the elite from? Perhaps from those people whom I quote here?

G. Pavlovsky: "We need a revision of the forms in which society and non-government organizations participate in the forming of authority." – Who needs this? Do you mean the authority? Government organizations are powerless here, so what do you expect from the non-government ones?

V. Nikonov: "Steps can be accelerated for enlarging the subjects of the federation." I’m sure they can, but what does Mr. Nikonov propose to do with the mass of laid-off bureaucrats?

M. Urnov: his thought is excited by the problem of civilian control over the proposed structures. God forbid that anything should work out in a non-democratic fashion. This political scientist evidently believes that it is possible to create civilian control in the absence of “civil society”, which absence all democrats keep talking about. To rephrase a Chinese proverb, this amounts to creating air out of air. However, he is contradicted by one very serious political scientist, in a very eloquent manner:

Igor Bunin: "The society has no defender save for Putin." – Just like that. One is tempted to finish this phrase with an “amen”.

And here is another solution for the problems, proposed by A. Khinstein – journalist and State Duma member at the same time – who became strongly enamored some time ago of enforcement structures and is equally strongly concerned about their inefficient functioning. Here is his recommendation:

"In the President’s place, I would have done one simple thing: I would have made an appeal to former employees of the KGB.

"Comrades, — I would have said, — the Fatherland is imperiled. The country needs today your experience and knowledge. You are the high command’s last reserve. Arise, all those who are left. As for salaries – sure, we will raise salaries…” (Moskovsky Komsomoletz (MK), 08.09.2004).

Mr. Khinstein himself wrote many times that former employees of the KGB have joined commercial structures, so they no longer have need of salaries (they now have dividends and whatnot), so why on Earth would they work to strengthen the state which just might take away from them all their “honest earnings” from commerce? Are they foes to themselves and their children? Sure, the fatherland is imperiled, but we don’t use the subway, and our children don’t attend school in Moscow – they are in London, or New York, or some other such place. You’re a naïve man, Alexander, although a sympathetic one, of course.

But here is a recommendation from S. Glaziev – a man far from naïve, an almost-Communist who ran for President in the latest election. This Comrade is discussing quite seriously the possibility of switching Russia to the track of a military economy. This will supposedly take “at least six months” (Novaya Gazeta (NG), 07.09.2004).

One wonders: why switch the whole economy to a military track? Just for the purpose of bringing terrorists to their knees and holding on to Chechnya? Glaziev speaks seriously of possibilities for the optimal placing of military orders, etc. This comes from a man who calls himself an opponent of the current regime. It is incomprehensible. Comrade Glaziev surely must know that the Soviet military-industrial complex practically devoured almost all of the Soviet economy and became one of the causes of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

So there you have them, the experts available for creating “the new political elite”.

Long before the events in Beslan A. Minkin, a very caustic journalist writing for Moskovsky Komsomoletz (MK), started publishing articles on a regular basis in the form of letters addressed to President Putin, in which he informed the President of all sorts of troubles taking place in Russia. He was saying every time: we’re curious, Mr. President; what are your thoughts about all these troubles? Even though Mr. Minkin himself hardly expected any response from the President, expectations of a response are characteristic of many citizens in Russia. The regime is generous with promises; it learned to sell them and to feed hopes to the populace. This works, especially since the majority of the populace has become religious, and religious thinking pins its hopes not only on God, but also on authority, which, by the way, has also been installed by God. Lots of churches have been built around the land, and obese priest bursting from their cassocks are even more numerous. Why should the authority bother doing anything for this religious people, when not only the priests, but also the elite intelligentsia, wearing golden crosses on their chests, keep appealing: pray for them, weep for them. The people pray and weep. Meanwhile terrorist attacks, bomb explosions and train wrecks continue. Not even the miracle-working Kazan Icon helps.

Let us leave religion alone now and return to the experts. I don’t know whether all these analysts believe in their recommendations, but they all have utopian illusions about the current system.

The utopian patriots lean toward authoritarian capitalism, which may prove capable of turning Russia into a strong power. This is an illusion, for a capitalist Russia will never become a strong power.

The utopian liberals dream of bringing down the authoritarian Putin with his crew and clearing the way for civilized democratic capitalism in Russia, so that it can be just like the West. This is a utopia, for Russia will under no circumstances ever resemble the West. The territory, the climate and the people are all unsuitable.

The left-wing utopians apparently dream of creating a people’s capitalism (let their socialist rhetoric fool no one; judge them by their deeds). That is, if they are ever “allowed” to take power. This is a utopia, for they will never be allowed into power, but they always will be used.

One can’t help noticing that all these experts pin their hopes an authority, appeal to authority, and in general fail to mention the people as a subject of politics. This is quite logical, since they are all lackeys of the current regime.

Impotence of the authority

All these people do not understand in what kind of society they live. They do not understand that the Beslan tragedy in itself and the method of its resolution reflect the model of Russia’s current society in general. Yulia Kalinina, a fine journalist at MK, described in her article who and in what fashion was responsible for liberating the hostages in Beslan; the title she chose was Impotenty (MK, 10.09.2004). She is a thousand times correct. This same word can be applied to the authority as a whole. The entire ruling class is impotent. The whole country is held hostage by a system ruled by political impotents.

On one of the days of the Beslan tragedy, a small article appeared in that same MK (06.09.2004), titled Murder on Credit. Against the backdrop of the events in Beslan, it passed unnoticed. Here is an excerpt:

"So how do we kill them? — The killer lit a cigarette and glanced at Lena sullenly.

— Why, any way you like! Strangle, shoot - whatever. I only have one request. When it is all over, — Lena was speaking perfectly calmly, — could you please crush their heads? With a crowbar or some other heavy thing?

Lena Samokhina was purchasing the murder of her family: mom, dad and little brother Ilia.

...After the search and interrogation were over, Samokhina decided that her troubles were over. She asked me: “So, can I go home now?” And she gave me a look of perfect innocence.

This is frightening. However, even more frightening is the fact that the people whose murder she ordered forgave her; her father promised to “extract” her from prison. They failed to see in her actions a “corpus delicti”. This is because crime, including murder, has become a norm of life in Russia. Between 1986 and 1995 the number of murders in Russia increased fourfold; in subsequent years their numbers became several times greater. Russia has a kind of capitalism formed when the state itself turns into a terrorist. The figures describing the demographic genocide in the land are known to all. Here are some new data presented by Medical Science Doctor I. A. Gundarev in his book The Demographic Catastrophe in Russia: Its Causes and Ways to Overcome It (Moscow, EKSMO 2004):  

"At the present stage the annual population decline stays at the level of 0.6-0.7% of the total; every year the population of Russia shrinks by 800-900 thousand. After 80 years the country will lose 50% of its population, and the vacated territories will be taken by migrants from neighboring regions of the world that are better off in the demographic sense."

And here are some supporting data that speak of the prospects:

"According to the pessimistic variant of the United Nations forecast, the population of Russia will number 96 million by the year 2050; according to the optimistic variant – 113 million. It says so in the report on the development of human potential in Russia, prepared within the framework of the UN development program.

In the forecast prepared by the Russian State Committee on Statistics, the corresponding figures are 77 million in the pessimistic variant and 123 million in the optimistic variant."

So what is the reason? Gundarev asserts that it isn’t even the worsening of the population’s economic situation (not only that, I would say); it is the moral atmosphere and the emotional state of society; the changed criteria of good and evil; the absence of vital prospects for the individual and the society as a whole; the loss of a moral compass, and the rejection of “values” forced from the outside. The author avoids using the words capitalism and socialism. However, he is in fact describing precisely the capitalist society, which brought about the dying out of the population. In principle, even if the authority did nothing against the population, it still would be dying out because of its rejection of the capitalist model.  

Recall the fate of the Incas after they were conquered by Spaniards. By the time of the conquest (early 16th century) they numbered about 7 million (a large number by the standards of those times); by the end of the century, there were only 1.8 million left (or even less, according to alternative data). It wasn’t because the conquistadores were exterminating them physically; John Hemming, a scholar of Incas, writes that it was due to “cultural shocks and disorderly administration”. All American Indian nations together totaled at that time about 25 million people; only a fraction of that number are alive today. This is due to that very same reason: cultural and civilizational incompatibility.

The dying out of Russians is due to that same cause: their incompatibility with the capitalist system. Moreover, in Russia this system gives birth to the most criminal regime of authority one can imagine. It is no simple regime; I repeat, it is a state-oligarchic regime. Let no one be confused by the fact that this authority suddenly “put the squeeze” on some oligarchs, for example Khodorkovsky. The oligarchs cannot be suppressed in principle, since there exists the system of “pouring over” authority into business, and business into authority. “Their own” people are in both places. The reprisals against some oligarchs are caused by the struggles within different branches of the system, which is not yet as transparent in Russia as it is, for example, in the USA (where un undeclared war goes on for control of state authority between monopolies oriented toward the Democratic Party and those oriented toward the Republican Party). Only very naïve or dumb journalists can express sympathy for the billionaire Khodorkovsky, who is “languishing” in the Matrosskaya Tishina penitentiary. One of them, Victoria Shokhina, writes in NG (06.09.2004):

"On September 3rd, precisely the day when mass killings started in Beslan, information tapes carried the news that the Ministry of Taxation demands another 120 billion rubles from YUKOS. At a time when people were being killed, including children, some enforcement agents were fighting a real battle with terrorists, while other enforcement agents were busying themselves with extorting money yet again. The coincidence is accidental, of course, but very symbolic."

This well-heeled lady obviously doesn’t understand that the reverse side of the billions amassed by YUKOS (i.e. Khodorkovsky) or by any other oligarch is the death of dozens, or perhaps even hundreds, of thousands of children. She doesn’t understand that Capital is more horrible than the scariest of terrorists. Moreover, in that same article this madam formulates a thought that is repeated by many other dummies-democrats:

"The main horror is that the Russian people is disunited and estranged from each other to the degree that it cannot be called a nation – that is, a unity whose members, although not all personally acquainted with each other, nonetheless regard themselves as a community with a common destiny and common hopes.

We do not perceive ourselves as a community. This is precisely our main difference from the Americans, who managed after 9/11 to rally even closer and thus – withstand the foe. 

However, Americans – Republicans or Democrats, white or black, rich or poor – have something that we have nothing at all of. Americans as a nation don’t divide themselves into “them” (the persons of power) and “us” (all the rest). That is why Americans are a nation.

Here in our consciousness, however, there is a chasm between “them” and “us”. This is one of the causes of our alienation from each other: “we” don’t understand “them” and don’t believe “them”.

I read quite a few articles and even monographs written by representatives of the democrats, where similar thoughts are expressed. They are correct on one point: the people in Russia is indeed disunited, and there really is no single nation in Russia. Russia has two nations: the nation of exploiters – the oligarchs, the rich (15%); and the nation of the exploited – the poor, the paupers (85%).

But the thing is, it is just the same in the USA, albeit with different proportions. Americans, too, divide themselves just fine into “elite” and “plebeians”. The two parts live under different standards, different conditions. The 42 million poorest Americans don’t associate themselves with the rich and the “persons of power”. Evidently, Mrs. Shokhina stays in five-star hotels whenever she comes to the USA. Evidently, she never peeked into the slums of New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco; she never saw clashes between police and workers in Chicago. No, they don’t have a single nation there.   

Yes, they really do have a very vast middle class – almost 70% of the population. But did Mrs. Shokhina ever wonder where this class emerged from? It emerged because the USA, same as all other rich countries of the West, learned to rob very deftly the entire Third World. Their well-being is built on the foundation of over one billion people subsisting on less than a dollar a day, and about three billion people getting by on less than two dollars a day. This is how the middle class emerged in the West and got to be so affluent. In spite of this, enclaves of the Third World have appeared inside “the golden billion”, and they expand every year. The charming harmony of which Mrs. Shokhina writes with such feeling will inevitably come to an end.

In Russia, there can be no such harmony in principle, not just because of the character of the authority itself and the psychology of the rich, but also because the Russian bourgeoisie is not robbing the Third World – it robs its own fellow countrymen, reducing their living standards to the level of the poorest countries in Africa. Such is the authority, such are the oligarchs.

Therefore one has to be absolutely naïve or endlessly dumb to demand effective war on terrorism from the authority – the authority that brazenly increases salaries for itself while driving them down for the majority of the population. Never mind the authority! It is ridiculous to demand anything from it when even the science bureaucracy (the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Science, the full members and the correspondent members) shamelessly set salaries for themselves that are orders of magnitude greater than those of “ordinary scholars”, starting with Doctors of Science. When the so-called cultural elite (who serve the current system), groaning about the terror, show off their fortunes, while libraries, museums, historical monuments, etc. are becoming dilapidated. When the bourgeoisie, especially its top layer, spends millions of dollars on recreation and baubles for wives and mistresses. Does anyone really expect from this regime some real changes that can defeat terrorism? Can anyone still fail to see that the main terrorist in Russia is the state itself - all of its structures without exception?  This state is criminal, and all those who serve it are criminals.

The Caucasus impasse as a reflection of the authority’s stupidity

This state, besides being criminal, is also dumb. I already wrote about it when analyzing Russia’s foreign policy in my book The 21st Century: the World Without Russia. There is now cause to revisit this problem precisely in connection with the events in the Caucasus. Let us discard the official documents (they are written too boringly). Let us take the evaluation of the situation by the editorial board of the weekly Argumenty I Fakty, since everyone or almost everyone thinks in precisely this fashion. Here’s their gem:

"It’s no secret to anyone that in the contemporary world the Caucasus region has a key geopolitical importance. Here lie major transport routes from Europe to Asia, the shortest route to the West for Caspian big oil, with reserves comparable only to those in the Middle East. Caucasus is a convenient strategic staging area for exerting influence on neighboring regions: Turkey, Iran, the countries of Central Asia, and China. Finally, the Caucasus is the very sensitive “underbelly” of Russia. Russia, whose strengthening some in the world still view unsympathetically, through the prism of the Cold War times."

This whole paragraph is an example of unique foolishness woven together from illiterate people’s myths. Let me proceed in order:

The Caucasus, for all its importance in world politics (actually, all regions are important), is not “key” in any doctrine of the states involved in geostrategic battles on our planet. It habitually holds 4th to 6th place in the hierarchy of regions’ importance to the great powers. The transport communications there are not “most important” to Europe or Asia, for there simply aren’t any. What kind of idiot would bet the farm on transport routes through mountains, anyway? Trade between Asia and Europe is carried on seas and oceans. The Caspian Sea oil reserves, exaggerated in the initial period of the Caspian boom (1994-1996), firstly, proved substantially smaller than advertised; secondly, they are difficult to develop because of the absence of acceptable infrastructure in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Even the Baku-Ceyhan project (Turkey) that everyone is sick of hearing by now is still in limbo.

Next: who in the world needs Caucasus in order to exert influence on Turkey, Iran, the countries of Central Asia and China? This is total nonsense! How do you influence China from the Caucasus? As for the USA, they don’t need Caucasus to “influence” Turkey, for they are already inside that country with their military bases. The same is true of the countries of Central Asia. As for Iran, it can be “influenced” from neighboring Iraq. On the whole, this talk is absurd.

Yes, the Caucasus is indeed Russia’s “underbelly”. Do Russia’s enemies really need it in order to weaken “the strengthening Russia” (as someone wrote)? Those who would weaken Russia have no need of any “underbelly”. All it takes is to introduce capitalism (market economy and democracy), and its successful development will bring about the utter destruction of Russia. Russia’s enemies have no need of the Caucasus to achieve that goal.

The thing is, though, that Russia itself has no need of the Caucasus. There has been much talk on this topic, with indignation expressed: what do you mean, we don’t need the Caucasus? That’s, that is so… So what? Let someone justify distinctly, with use of figures, the strategic importance of the Caucasus to Russia’s national interests. Long ago the brainless tsarist Russia threw away millions of rubles, expended the lives of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers on this perfectly non-justified “strategic goal”. Commerce across the Caucasus was only conducted with Persia (Iran), but it never amounted to more than 3% of the total volume of Russia’s foreign trade. 3% and 50 years of war – was that an adequate price to pay?

The same considerations apply to contemporary Russia. The Caucasus as an “outlet” – to where? What for? The share of the three countries of Transcaucasia (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) in Russia’s foreign trade in 2002 was 0.4% in exports and 0.5% in imports; the share of Iran – respectively 0.7% and 0.1%. Therefore, from the perspective of commerce this whole region is of no value to Russia. So what is its importance? When the USA included the Caspian region in its Strategy for the 21st Century - in the section on their national interests in the Near and Middle East - they specified clearly what benefits they will derive from control over this region. (I remind you that in accordance with the Foreign Policy Reform Act of 1997, every dollar spent on international activities must bring a payoff of ten dollars.) By their calculations, the profits from the involvement of the USA in the Caspian region were substantially larger than the expenditures. However, they are compelled to recalculate all that now, since they goofed big-time, especially with Azerbaijan. Be that as it may, they always do the calculations.

Can Russia calculate the costs of holding on to its “underbelly” with a net benefit to it? Since I worked on this particular topic once, I assure you: there are no documents, no calculations within the bowels of Russia’s administration where these elementary things are calculated.

Chechnya – who needs it? One frequently voiced motive is “the territorial integrity” of Russia. Should Russia let go of Chechnya, a chain reaction will follow. Let us assume that this is true. But is a region really part of Russia if it does not recognize Russian legislation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation? If troops need to be stationed there to control this territory, and these troops are killed by the Chechens on a regular basis? De-facto this territory is already no longer part of the Russian state.

Reason number two, the economic one: there is oil there, and the oil pipeline from Baku to Novorossiysk. Who derives benefits from this? Some part of the Russian business community, I’m sure (for example, LUKOIL). However, consider the amount of financial resources that have to be expended constantly (by the whole state, i.e. the whole population) in order to serve the interests of one particular group of Russian businesspeople and officials. Let someone calculate the difference between the investments and the revenues – if only just in the purely economic sphere. To these expenditures, however, one should add the cost of maintaining troops and, most importantly, the ongoing killing of Russian soldiers and civilians. Or perhaps the latter don’t count?

In his Address, the President promised a whole bunch of measures for the North Caucasus. Did anyone calculate how much all this is going to cost? I already presented here some experts’ opinions of the measures suggested. It didn’t occur to even one of them to try and figure out the cost of the proposed measures and of their own recommendations. Where will they find the funds when there’s not enough money for education, science and health care?

There is yet another snag: who will be forming the promised structures, and with what kind of people? If the task is entrusted to the brainless politicians, one can imagine whom they will pick. Take just one of the “who”: Sergei Ivanov, Minister of Defense. When he promised to make strikes against terrorists in any corner of the world, he calmed the public by declaring that in the process “nuclear weapons will not be used.” I bet that the idea of using nukes against terrorists would not have occurred to even one patient in the infamous Kaschenko Mental Hospital.

So this kind of people will be creating “the structures”?! In today’s Russia, there simply aren’t any qualified cadres for either leadership or executive work. I mean the ruling class, naturally. What can one expect except more idiocy when illiterate people rule the roost in the Kremlin, when such “professionals” as Gref, Ivanov, Zurabov and their ilk hold ministerial portfolios, when the Attorney General of Russia is incapable of writing literately a simple reference, when the Presidents of various Academies and Foundations cannot see beyond their own noses, and cannot count.

The sources of Russian terrorism

They don’t talk much about the sources of Russian terrorism in the Russian bourgeois press, since the topic is fundamental, and, most importantly, its analysis may lead to some unpleasant conclusions. Nonetheless, it did emerge, as if in obliquely, in one of the articles by the aforementioned A. Minkin, with the wrathful title No Quarter (MK, 07.09.2004), in which the fiery journalist condemned not only the Northern Caucasus terrorists, but all terrorists in general; any person will subscribe to that, of course. However, Mr. Minkin somehow managed to put on one level the Al-Quaieda terrorists, the OAS, the Jewish terrorist organizations that killed British servicemen in the Palestine… and the Russian “narodniki” who fought against the Tsarist regime. The latter comment is interesting; therefore I am compelled to quote it. Minkin writes:  

"Russian terrorists (who started it all) assassinated Russian Emperors and governors. Stepan Khalturin (after whom a street is named in Moscow to this day) knew when he planted a huge bomb under the Tsar’s dining room in the Winter Palace that he was going to kill not just the Emperor, but also all of his children, their governesses and waitresses (forty innocent servant soldiers and officers were killed)."

Much has been written about the Tsar along these lines. Sure, one has pity for his children, same as for all murdered children. But for some reason neither Mr. Minkin or all other Tsar-lovers recall that on Tsar Nicholas’ orders the so-called Bloody Sunday was carried out in St. Petersburg (9 January 1905), when 1200 people were killed and about 5000 wounded; there were quite a few children among them. They don’t recall the Lena River Massacre and many other crimes which earned the last Tsar the well-deserved moniker “Nicholas the Bloody”. This nincompoop first lost his war with Japan, then got Russia involved in World War I, sacrificing the lives of 8 million Russian soldiers and officers essentially in the interests of France and Britain. So who was the greater terrorist: Khalturin or Nicholas the Bloody?

Terrorism in Russia did not start with the narodniki, as the journalist Minkin and his ilk decided; it started much earlier, and it was always initiated by the authority (have you forgotten about Ivan the Terrible’s “oprichnina”?) The cause of terrorism always lay and still lies in the sphere of economics. War is terrorism, too, albeit on the level of state. When there is no strength to oppose the state, terrorism acquires a group or individual character. It is conducted ultimately for the sake of economic interests. In this sense, there is no difference between the international terrorism discussed in the beginning of this article, and the terrorism in North Caucasus. When I said above that Russia lacks the cadres capable of defeating terrorism, it is a superficial reason for the setbacks in the war on terrorism. The problem goes deeper. Even if good men were found, all the measures announced by the President are impossible to implement within the framework of the existing political-economic system. This system is capitalist, oppressive, unjust by its very nature. Chechnya is de-facto lost to Russia, and one of the reasons is that in Chechens’ eyes Russia is an imperialist, colonialist state. It is possible to “put up with” an imperialist state when it is prosperous (like the USA, for example). But the Russian state is itself impoverished and doomed to demise, as evidenced by the living standards of 85% of the population. What good is such a state? The Chechens believe that once they break away from Russia, they will manage, like Georgia and Azerbaijan, to find a “rich uncle” – say, that same USA – who will help them. They don’t understand that America doesn’t help anyone for free; for each dollar invested it extracts ten dollars of profit, as I mentioned already. However, it seems not to be the case to the Chechens – same as, evidently, to the Georgians. Should one calculate all costs and benefits, it will turn out that Russia is better off letting the Chechens go, perhaps handing them over to those same Americans. It is a good idea, among other things, because Chechnya is a feudal enclave; its population has a feudal type of thinking. It is incompatible with the thinking of Russians, who are also sliding into feudalism, true, but it is a feudalism of the Russian priestly leaven.

Moreover, for that same reason not only Chechnya should be let go, but also all other republics of the North Caucasus (Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkesiy). It is because they are all interconnected in one way or another. The more republics leave Russia “in the chain reaction”, the better off Russia will be. In fact, not only does Russia have no strategic interests in the North Caucasus – it doesn’t even have economic interests there.  

It is just as obvious, however, that the current authority, representing the bourgeois state, will never do that. It is because it is itself a terrorist – in essence and by definition. Its thinking is no different from the thinking of terrorists, and in the scale of killing its own people it surpasses the terrorists of North Caucasus. The issue of authority arises: what is to be done about it? The answer is unequivocal; however, it will be discussed elsewhere, next time.

 Oleg Arin