On April 4, Gazeta.ru reported on the first session of a new public commission to investigate the explosions of the apartment houses in Moscow and Volgodonsk in the fall of 1999. Fifteen persons are members of the new commission, including five deputies of the State Duma (Sergei Kovalev, Sergei Yushenkov, Yuly Rybakov, Viktor Pokhmelkin and Yury Shchekochikhin), jurists Boris Zolotukhin and Karina Moskalenko, leader of the Russian PEN-center Aleksandr Tkachenko, and historian and publicist Leonid Batkin. Sergei Kovalev was elected chair of the new organization. The next session of the commission has been scheduled for April 18.
On April 2, Ekho Moskvy Radio reported a statement by leading Duma deputy Boris Nemtsov that the Union of Right Forces parliamentary faction is prepared to vote for a draft motion establishing a State Duma commission to probe the facts concerning the 1999 blasts in the apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk and the Ryazan’ incident as well.
Interviewed by the Italian newspaper Chiesa Cattolica, the well-known human rights activist and former Soviet political prisoner Vladimir Bukovsky stated, inter alia: “Evidence exists that entire apartment districts of Moscow were blown up by the special services in order to incite hatred against the Chechens. Chechnya was used for political goals. It permitted Putin and the KGB to return to power…. What the Russians are doing in Chechnya is no less a crime than what Milosevich did in Kosovo, but Milosevich is in the Hague while Putin for some reason is not” (Inosmi.ru, April 4).
In the course of a Russia-wide public opinion poll taken between March 22-25, a leading Russian polling organization, VTsIOM, asked respondents their opinion of who was behind the 1999 Moscow and Volgodonsk bombings. The results: 6 percent–the bombings were organized by the secret services; 37 percent–a secret service role is not proven but possible; 38 percent–a secret service role in the bombings is totally impossible; 19 percent–don’t know” (Russiavotes.org, April 4).