Woman who accused Russia of bomb plot wins asylum

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A woman who claims that the Russian security service orchestrated a deadly bombing campaign against its own people has been granted political asylum in the United States.

A woman who claims that the Russian security service orchestrated a deadly bombing campaign against its own people has been granted political asylum in the United States.

Alena Morozova, 28, argued that her life was not safe in Russia because of her role in an investigation into a series of mysterious apartment bombings that claimed the lives of almost 300 people in three Russian cities in 1999.

The authorities have insisted that the bombings, among the worst terror acts in modern Russian history, were the work of Chechen separatists.

But Ms Morozova, who lost her mother and boyfriend in the blasts, has repeatedly claimed the opposite and along with her sister, Tatyana, took part in a film - Disbelief - that questions the official version of events.

In 1999, public outrage over the bombings allowed Vladimir Putin, who was Prime Minister, to launch the second Chechen war. When Boris Yeltsin stepped down as President a few months later he chose Mr Putin, a former head of the FSB security service, as his successor.

Ms Morozova claims the FSB itself planted the explosives to propel its man into the Kremlin. Such allegations are dismissed as "immoral" and "delirious nonsense" by Mr Putin. The FSB says no concrete evidence to support such claims has been put forward.

Two men said to be acting on the orders of Chechen rebel leaders were sentenced to life in prison last year for making the explosives and for transporting them to Moscow.

Washington's decision to grant Ms Morozova asylum is unlikely to be well received in official circles in Moscow where her views are regarded as part of a treasonable conspiracy theory to destroy Mr Putin's reputation.

Evidence to support her claims is circumstantial but troubling. Days after the bombings, a resident of an apartment block in the town of Ryazan spotted three people acting suspiciously and called the police. Sacks containing hexogen, the explosive used in the other apartment bombings, were apparently found in the block's cellar along with a timer set for 5.30 am. The three people who allegedly planted the explosives were revealed to be FSB agents but Nikolai Patrushev, head of the security service, claimed the sacks contained sugar and had been placed there as part of a training exercise. Sceptics say the story was a cover-up.

People who have tried to investigate the bombings have ended up dead or behind bars. In April 2003, Sergei Yushenkov, deputy chairman of a parliamentary inquiry into the matter, was shot dead in a contract killing. Another MP, Yuri Shekochikhin, who had also been looking into the matter, died later that year in a mysterious food poisoning incident.

Mikhail Trepashkin, a former FSB agent, who claimed to have evidence of security service involvement, was sentenced to four years in prison last year on apparently unrelated charges of disclosing state secrets and illegally possessing ammunition.

Comments