Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 21

Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev claimed responsibility for the power failure that hit large sections of Moscow and surrounding regions on May 25. “Our subversive groups have dealt a severe blow to one of the most vitally important systems of the Russian empire,” Basaev said in a statement posted on the Kavkazcenter website on May 27. “The results of the special operation exceeded all our expectations. At present, we are collecting information on the nature of the consequences of our blow to central Russia. All I can say now is that the Russian authorities are impudently lying by concealing the real reason for the ‘man-made disaster’ and are trying to hush up the very serious repercussions of our special operation. I will leave it at that and will not go into the important detail of the special operation, because we are currently carrying out a serious analysis of both our own actions and the actions of our adversary.” Russian officials have blamed the power outage on old equipment and ruled out the possibility that terrorism caused it.

On May 28, Basaev also claimed responsibility for the May 27 fire that badly damaged the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater in central Moscow. “A report was received today from another of our sabotage groups which was tasked with destroying or causing maximum damage to economic, political, administrative and cultural propaganda centers in Russian cities, especially Moscow,” Basaev said in a statement posted by Kavkazcenter on May 29. “The group carried out a successful special operation on the night of 26-27 May when it set fire to the Stanislavsky Theater in the Russian capital. As we pledged in the aftermath of the despicable killing of [Zelimkhan] Yandarbiev, the ex-president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, we intend to do our best to continue to bomb, blow up, poison, burn and cause natural gas explosions and blazes across the entire territory of Russia. With Allah’s mercy, today our ranks include Muslims of various nationalities, including Russians who follow the path of jihad. They also include many non-Muslims who sympathize with us. Therefore, our capabilities are increasing day by day, God willing. Allah is great!”