The no. 61 (August 27) issue of Novaya Gazeta contains the full text of a new book, entitled “The FSB Is Blowing Up Russia,” co-authored by Aleksandr Litvinenko and Yury Fel’shtinsky. From 1988-1998, Litvinenko served as an officer in the counterintelligence organs of the FSB. In November 1998, he openly criticized the leadership of the FSB during a press conference in Moscow, after which he suffered two arrests. In 2000, he left Russia illegally. Currently he and his family reside in Britain, where, this May, he was granted political asylum.
Chapter four of the new book, entitled “The Failure of the FSB in Ryazan,” and chapter five, titled “The FSB Against the People,” treat in great detail the extraordinary events that took place in the central Russian city of Ryazan on the night of September 22-23, 1999. The authors’ thesis, in a nutshell, is that the FSB attempted to blow up an apartment complex in Ryazan that night but that this attempt was foiled by a sharp-eyed local citizen. The bombing of Chechnya was set to begin the following day, and, if an explosion had occurred in Ryazan, there would have been no bounds to Russian popular fury. Following the debacle in Ryazan, there ensued an elaborate cover-up, whose intricate workings the authors meticulously trace. The “Ryazan incident” represents a key event for all of those in Russia who contend that it was the FSB (possibly cooperating with the GRU) who in fact blew up two large apartment complexes in Moscow in September 1999, thereby galvanizing popular support for a second invasion of Chechnya.