Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 42

In mid-November, a five-month-long, closed, secret trial of five residents of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, charged with having participated in the terror bombings of Moscow and Volgodonsk during September of 1999, came to an end on the grounds of a penal colony located outside of the city of Stavropol in southern Russia. “The largest sentence handed down was fifteen years, though, due to lack of evidence, the court did not find the defendants guilty of involvement in the Moscow and Volgodonsk bombings.” Instead they were found culpable of “involvement in the activities of a criminal group that produced explosives” (, November 15). Commenting on the trial, a well-known pro-democracy journalist, Valery Yakov, termed it “an information bomb which no-one noticed.” Seeking to curry favor with the Kremlin and with the FSB, Yakov charged, the Russian press has sought assiduously to direct public attention away from the secret trial in Stavropol Krai toward “the new Lubyanka [FSB] spectacle extremely opportunely being presented in Makhachkala,” a reference to the just-opened highly publicized trial of field commander Salman Raduev and three other Chechen separatists. “The main question,” Yakov concluded his ruminations, “is who will answer for the [Moscow] explosions? And when?” (Novye Izvestia, November 16).