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Basaev Says Beslan Raid Prompted By FSB Sting

The catalyst for the Beslan hostage taking on 1 September 2004 was an attempt by the Federal Security Service (FSB) to infiltrate the Chechen resistance and to provoke them to try to seize the parliament building in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, according to a 30 August statement by radical field commander Shamil Basaev that was posted on the resistance websites kavkaz-tsentr and

Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel promptly rejected Basaev's claim as the "delirium of a terrorist murderer of children," AFP reported. Shepel told Interfax on 31 August that the official investigation into the Beslan events has not revealed any evidence of FSB involvement.

Basaev claimed responsibility for planning the Beslan hostage taking shortly after it took place. In an interview made in June that was broadcast last month by the American television network ABC, Baseav argued that "the entire Russian people share the responsibility for Beslan in that their silent consent is tantamount to approval of this war." At the same time, Basaev admitted that "to be honest, I did not expect" that the Russian authorities would risk the lives of hundreds of children by storming the school building where they were being held hostage.

Basaev said he would welcome "an open international investigation" into the circumstances of the hostage taking, and that "we have a survivor of that operation who is ready to give evidence." That assertion calls into question the Russian authorities' assertion that Nurpasha Kulaev, currently on trial for his participation in the hostage taking, was the sole militant to survive the storm of the school.

In his 30 August statement, Basaev asked why he should disclaim responsibility for "a successful operation that demonstrated the true face of 'Rusism,'" a concept that he subsequently defined as "a people-hating, schizophrenic imperialistic ideology, a mutation comprised of elements of fascism, racism, chauvinism, and other 'isms.'"

Basaev then proceeded in his statement to outline the developments that culminated in the Beslan operation. He alleged that the special services in North Ossetia had infiltrated into the ranks of his men an agent, whom he identified as Vladimir Khodov. Khodov was instructed to win Basaev's confidence, which according to Basaev he succeeded in doing by participating in several bombings in Vladikavkaz. Khodov then proposed to Basaev seizing the parliament and government buildings in Vladikavkaz. But shortly afterward, he confessed to Basaev his relations with the FSB, and agreed to function as a double agent.

Basaev said preparations for the operation in Vladikavkaz got under way in the spring of 2004. That operation was scheduled for 6 September, the anniversary of the declaration in 1991 of Chechnya's independence. The plan was for the FSB to intercept and neutralize Basaev's men on the outskirts of the North Ossetian capital. To that end, a safe corridor was made available to Basaev's men, which Basaev said they took advantage of to reach Beslan without being intercepted.

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