Six bombs in Russian apartment houses in 1999 were
blamed on Chechen terrorists. They engendered a national
panic that helped justify Vladimir Putin's full-scale
invasion of Chechenya. The first five bombs caused 300
deaths; the sixth bomb, in the city of Ryazan, was detected
in advance and defused by a bomb squad on September
22nd, 1999. It was the only incident in which the perpetrators
Who was behind the Ryazan Incident?
The FSB, the successor intelligence service to the
KGB which Putin headed before becoming Acting President
and then, after his military success in Chechenya, President
Here is what happened on the night of September 22rd,
1999. At about 9 PM, a bus driver returning from work
to his apartment on New Settler's Street in Ryazan,
saw a white car backed up to the high-rise building
in which he lived. He noticed that its license plate
had been suspiciously taped over. Then, two men and
a woman, who appeared to be coming from the basement
of the building, got in. One man was looking at his
watch then the trio drove off in a rush. The bus driver
immediately called the police emergency number.
The local police arrived, went to the basement, and
came rushing out shouting 'bomb'. A bomb-disposal team
then defused and removed the alien device from the building.
Concerned that there might be other bombs, the police
proceeded to evacuate all the residents to a nearby
cinema, where they spent the entire night and next morning.
In Moscow, on September 23rd, the FSB announced that
a "terrorist action" in Ryazan had been narrowly averted,
and the next day Acting President ordered the Russian
Army to invade Chechenya and eliminate the terrorists'
Meanwhile, in Ryazan, preliminary lab tests showed
the presence of explosives in the device that were similar
to the five other bombs blamed on Chechen terrorists,
according to Lieutenant-Colonel Sergei Kabashov of the
Ryazan police. Acting on the assumption that it was
the work of Chechen terrorists, the police located the
white car with the doctored plates which had been abandoned
in a parking lot near the train station. While tracing
its engine number for the identity of the car's chain
of ownership, the police put the city's railroad stations
under tight surveillance. Presumably, the trio, whom
residents of the building had described, were trapped
in Ryazan. At this point, a local operator intercepted
a phone call. It was from an unidentified person in
Ryazan to FSB headquarters in Moscow. The FSB official
advised the apparently panicked team in Ryazan to "split
up" to evade police surveillance at the train station.
And then in Moscow, just as the Ryazan police were
closing in on the trio of suspects, Nikolai Patrushev,
the head of the FSB in Moscow, announced that the incident
in Ryazan had been nothing more than a "training exercise"
staged by the FSB to test local vigilance. He explained
the earlier FSB announcement that it was a "terrorist
action" was erroneous, as was the police analysis revealing
explosives in the bomb. The white car belonged to the
FSB. The trio who planted the device were FSB agents.
The device secreted in the apartment house basement
contained, according to the FSB, harmless sugar.
So the FSB admitted it was behind the Ryazan incident.
As it turned out, there were no more "training exercises"--
or, for that matter, bombs in apartment houses.
Had there been earlier FSB "training exercises"?
Did the NSA intercept any telephone calls over open
lines on September 24,1999 between FSB headquarters
in Moscow and Ryazan?