Putin's Rise to Power Part 2

In the second part of this series we discuss Putin's first years in office, in particular the Moscow apartment bombings and the Moscow theater hostage crisis. Both events were blamed on Chechen militants despite overwhelming evidence of state involvement.

This episode picks up in Putin's first term as president, which almost immediately was overshadowed by the Moscow apartment bombings, which were blamed on Chechen terrorists despite all signs pointing to the KGB / FSB. The FSB had recently acquired large quantities of hexogen, an explosive found at the scene. Composite sketches of a suspect were circulated by police and local press, and then erased from existence at the behest of the FSB when they decided upon a suspect: Chechen rebellion leader Achemez Gochiyaev. Please become a patron if you enjoy our content and want to support us, you'll get all of our public episodes ad-free.

Key to investigating the FSB's links to these bombings were three people we have mentioned before, former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, former media oligarch Boris Berezovsky, and reporter Anna Politkovskaya, all of whom have since been murdered by Russian intelligence or mobsters since that time. If you want to read more on this subject, we recommend Blowing Up Russia by Litvinenok and Russian historian Yuri Felshtinsky, as well as From Russia With Blood by Heidi Blake. 1, 2

Following the bombings, the Moscow theater crisis was another event in which the FSB was complicit in killing Russian civilians and blaming the carnage on Chechen militants. An entire theater was taken hostage leading to a multi-day seige from Russian police and military, after which the FSB gassed the theater, killing indiscriminately both hostage-takers and hostages alike. It seems that the lone "Chechen militant" escapee from the crisis, Khanpasha Terkibayev, was kicked out of dozens of local Chechen resistance organizations, because everyone in his home region suspected him of being an informant for the FSB.

1. Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky, Blowing Up Russia, Encounter Books, March 2007. 

2. Heidi Blake, From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin's Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin's Secret War on the West, Mulholland Books, November 2019.