Is Putin About to Use Sinai Plane Disaster as He Did Apartment Bombings in 1999?

November 4, 2015
Remnants of Metrojet Airbus A321, a charter flight carrying Russian vacationers from Egypt to St. Petersburg which crashed October 31, 2015, killing all 224 aboard. Photo by Maxim Grigoriev/AP via Russian Emergencies Ministry

Staunton, November 3 Andrey Illarionov says that recent statements by Vladimir Putin suggest that the Kremlin leader may be about to exploit the crash of the Russian plane in Sinai in much the same way that he did the apartment bombings in 1999, to unify Russian society behind even harsher measures against “terrorists.”

The Russian analyst points to statements by Putin and other Russian officials in the last several days which suggest that the Kremlin plans on identifying some group as being responsible for the downing of the plane, mobilizing Russian public opinion against that group, and then launching an attack on it.

And he asks, “Does this not remind everyone of the play, ‘The Beginning of the Second Chechen War in August-September 1999’ in three acts?”

In the first, the situation is as follows: “the latest war in the Caucasus/Middle East is becoming unpopular in Russian society.”

In the second, “terrorist acts take place in Russian cities/with a Russian jet, in which hundreds of innocent people die.”

And in the third act, Illarionov concludes, “Russian society is frightened and unwillingly supports the harsh measures of the authorities in putting down the Chechen/and defeat of Islamist ‘terrorists.’”

What Illarionov does not say but what will certainly be on the minds of many who read his post is something truly frightening: Many have concluded that Putin not only exploited the 1999 bombings but was in some way involved in their organization. Thus, any suggested parallel is inevitably politically explosive.

(For the most detailed discussion of what happened in 1999, see John Dunlop’s The Moscow Bombings of September 1999 (Ibidem, 2014).)