Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 12

Russia’s secret police won a court battle on April 2, one that allows them to continue covering up their role in the mysterious 1999 terrorist bombings that laid the groundwork for the current war in Chechnya. A Moscow court refused to order the FSB to release internal documents sought by federal Duma member Sergei Kovalev, about an episode in which FSB officers were alleged to have deliberately planted explosives in a Ryazan apartment building.

By blocking the local Ryazan police from investigating that incident, the Russian authorities reinforced suspicions about two fatal apartment house bombings elsewhere that year which they also avoided investigating thoroughly–but which they immediately blamed on Chechen terrorists.

The FSB has claimed that the Ryazan episode was an “exercise.” Kovalev has responded that if it was indeed only an “exercise,” then the secret police have no legal right to withhold the information that he is seeking. Last month an FSB representative told the court that the “exercise” also included “operational-investigative activities,” and that the FSB therefore has the right to continue withholding the documents which the Duma deputy is seeking.

Kovalev plans to appeal the court decision, the “Prima” news agency reported on April 3. “I really think that the FSB ought to be especially interested in seeing this case resolved, because these horrible accusations have been made against it,” he said. “But, the FSB, by all accounts, thinks otherwise.”