Monday, April 23, 2007


Adam Larson/Caustic Logic
Guerillas Without Guns/Chapter 9
Posted 4/23/07

An ancient center of Christianity, Armenia was made an SSR around Christmas of 1920. Memories of Soviet-era repression of the Armenian Church did not keep the former SSR from signing on to Russia’s CIS at independence, and later the CSTO as Russia’s only remaining close partner in the Caucasus. But the government at Yerevan also has created a full market economy, allowing high economic freedom and low corruption by CIS standards, and has even gained membership to the WTO as of 2003. Robert Kocharian, second President since independence, has ruled from Yerevan since 1998. The Armenian election process is often criticized in the West, [1] but opposition parties are allowed, and have formed into the Justice Bloc coalition.

Again the transition to independence here was not smooth, with the early 90s witnessing a fierce Armenia-Azerbaijan war over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict claimed over 20,000 lives before it was ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire and OSCE-brokered peace talks in 1994. Nikolai Kovalyov, former head of Russia's FSB, insisted in early 2004 that Armenian activists had trained alongisde Pora and Kmara kids at the “U.S.-funded camps in Serbia” [2] Following Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Western and Russian media predicted that Armenia could be the next setting for a “color revolution.” Some Armenian media outlets went so far as to suggest names for that would-be revolution, including “The Apricot Revolution” and “The Peach Revolution.” [3]

It started with Armenia’s presidential election in March 2003 followed by parliamentary elections in May; big changes were possible just months before the Rose revolution would finally announce the opening of the color phase in neighboring Georgia. Widespread complaints about voting irregularities and general discontent helped opposition parties, but they failed to “fully capitalize” on this, and the protest campaign fizzled. Again in 2004 an upheaval as planed, but the authorities resorted to tough tactics like illegally blocking the bus system into Yerevan to prevent masses of opposition supporters from joining the rallies there. [4]

Opposition parties were predicting big changes again in April 2005 as parliamentary elections again drew near. But analysts pointed out their organizational weaknesses, lack of a charismatic leader comparable to Saakashvili, and the competition and bickering between the challengers for the slot - Artashes Geghamian and Stepan Demirchian. They jointly announced a boycott of parliament in early 2004, hoping the progressives absence from the government would gain them wider popular support. Instead, one year later EurasiaNet explained, “the boycott appears to have only denied the opposition an opportunity to express their opinions on the national stage.” Given the failures of the past, and the relative lack of urgency there, the population was not enthusiastic about revolution in 2005. “The peach has not matured yet,” the Yerevan-based daily Aravot concluded. The 2005 campaign fell apart and there are no new elections until 2007 – they missed their chance for the time being. [5]

[1] "Armenia." Wikipedia. As modified on September 3 2006.
[2] Feinberg, Leslie. “Washington and the coup in former Soviet Georgia.” Worker’s World. January 22, 2004. Accessed at:
[3], [4], [5] Khachatrian, Haroutiun. ARMENIA’S OPPOSITION: IN SEARCH OF A REVOLUTION Eurasia Insight. April 19 2005.


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 4/23/07

Despite the little-seen bull import of Western assistance, most of the help for the Orange Revolution was provided from native Ukrainians and the wealthy Diaspora communities who donated money, space, supplies, time, and energy. As we’ve seen, municipal leaders like Kiev mayor Olmchenko were instrumental in allowing the protests to flourish. Others who sympathized with the movement pitched in by not doing things like cracking down. Petro Rondiak noted: “the riot cops were laughing at our jokes and I certainly doubt they would put up much resistance if...” The authorities simply refused to clamp down on their fellow citizens and all remained peaceful. As per Sharp’s strategy the protesters did what they could to co-opt the security forces, but in this case, for whatever reasons, the main effort behind this co-option came from within the security services themselves. And some of the assistance came just in time to prevent the Orange Revolution from turning red with blood.

The behind-the-scenes intrigue was well-related in an unprecedented January 2005 piece in the New York Times by Ukraine expert C.J. Chivers, who interviewed dozens of people involved, including ex-president Kuchma, to assemble his account. Chivers explains how Smeshko’s SBU and other Ukrainian security Agencies (collectively called siloviki) played an unusually powerful role throughout the Revolution – on behalf not of the government they worked for but of the opposition. Oleg Ribachuk, Yushchenko's chief of staff, called this siloviki support “a very important element” that aided their cause “professionally and systemically.” [2]

Opinions on motives differ – Yulia Tymoshenko felt the intelligence agencies were “hedging their bets” in a “complicated game.” But Ribachuk felt they were real allies who “risked their lives and careers” to help keep Yanukovych out of office. [3] They were reportedly motivated by personal aversion to serving a president Yanukovych, who was in his youth convicted of robbery and assault, besides his connection with corrupt businessmen, his unpopularity, and willingness to use fraud. Smeshko in particular reportedly loathed Yanukovych intensely. “They were doing this like a preventive operation,” Ribachuk said of the siloviki intervention. [4]

SBU Director Ihor Smeshko, back-channel ally of the Revolution
Long before the election, the siloviki and the opposition opened quiet lines of communication, including General Smeshko's assignment of an SBU general as secret liaison to Mr. Ribachuk. [5] Ribachuk said that he ultimately had several SBU contacts, with whom he met regularly. The officers leaked him documents and information from the offices of the President and Prime Minister, he said, and were sources for much of the material used in the opposition's media campaign. Particularly useful was the November 24 publication of a recording in which Yanukovych officials discuss exactly how the vote would be fixed: “we have agreed to a 3 to 3.5 percent difference in our favor. We are preparing a table. You will have it by fax.” General Smeshko refused to discuss the tapes in detail with Chivers. “Officially, the S.B.U. had nothing to do with the surveillance of Yanukovich campaign officials. Such taping would be illegal in this country without permission from the court. I will say nothing more.” [6]

After the November run-off fraud, The SBU leadership met at Smeshko’s office, and “contemplated a public resignation,” but as Chivers explains “decided to try steering the gathering forces from a clash, and to fight from within.” “Today we can save our faces or our epaulettes, or we can try to save our country," the spy chief was recalled as saying. [7] Chivers reported that at this time, late November, “General Smeshko agreed to provide [Yushchenko] eight specialists from the elite Alpha counterterrorism unit - a highly unusual step - and to arrange former SBU members to guard the campaign.” [8] It turns out this was agreed to in a secret meeting not three months after their last meeting on September 5, after which Yushchenko had “fallen ill” and essentially blamed Smeshko or his cronies for poisoning him. All indications are that Smeshko’s Alpha troops continued to protect Yushchenko’s campaign nonetheless, though from exactly whom is unclear.

The protection extended beyond the candidate himself and over the whole Revolution. As protests escalated, on the evening of November 28 over 10,000 troops from the Kuchma-allied Interior Ministry – 3,000 armed with guns, the rest with riot gear - were mobilized to Independence Square to put down the protests, by the order of their commander Lt. Gen. Sergei Popkov. [9] As the military convoy rolled into the night Kiev moved towards what Chivers called “a Soviet-style crackdown that could have brought civil war.” [10] But then the Siloviki stepped in. Oleksander Galaka, head of GRU (military intelligence) made calls to “prevent bloodshed.” Senior officials with the SBU learned of this mobilization and moved quickly to warn opposition leaders. SBU Director Ihor Smeshko claimed to have warned Popkov to pull back his troops, as has Maj. Gen. Vitaly Romachenko, the military counter-intelligence chief. [11] Popkov indeed pulled back and bloodshed – a Tiananmen Square in Europe - was narrowly averted.

Next: Away From Russia

[1] [1] Rondiak, Petro. “Kiev resident and supporter of the revolution: E-mail messages sent to friends abroad.” The Ukrainian Weekly, January 2, 2005, No. 1, Vol. LXXIII
[2] – [11] Chivers, C.J. “Back Channels: A Crackdown Averted: How Top Spies in Ukraine Changed the Nation's Path.” The New York Times. January 17, 2005. Accessed via:

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns

Slobodan Milosevic had charted an effective but unremarkable career in the Socialist party as a typical toady who was fiercely supportive of orthodox Marxism. But he was also an international banker and economic moderate who favored partial privatization of the economy and closer cooperation with the Americans, who saw him as a “breath of fresh air” in the 1980s. [1] Milosevic was a master sculptor of his media image, and knew just how to destroy an opponent politically. After protracted power struggles with President Stambolic, Milosevic emerged as the highly popular President of Serbia in 1989, just as the Warsaw Pact was crumbling away to the north.

He would be President of the Yugoslav Federation as well, but not until 1997, by which time the former SFRY had been nearly dismantled. Over the 1990s, four of six republics seceded, finally leaving only Serbia and Montenegro in a “rump” Yugoslavia. This was not simply a passive process but one helped along by outside powers. Greek peace activist Evangelos Mahairas took issue with the United States effectively cutting off aid to Yugoslavia as a whole in 1990, promising money to the six republics individually if they held separate elections. [2] Thus from 1990 on, the breakup of Yugoslavia was nearly inevitable as the West, notably Germany and the US, extended recognition to one Republic after the other that broke free from Belgrade’s control.

In fact if seen as intentional, this is essentially a divide-and-conquer strategy, as was being done with the former Soviet sphere. The plan is to decentralize, create multiple poles of power, get competition working in your favor and cut bilateral deals with independent states. By the mid-1990s the world was left with a mess of five bickering fragments (in alphabetical order): Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and “Yugoslavia” (or Serbia and Montenegro, capital at Belgrade). Serbia also contained two autonomous provinces: Vojvodina in the north (capital, Novi Sad) and the now well-known southern region of Kosovo (capital at Pristina). While Milosevic's critics allege he sought annexation of Serb-dominated areas in the neighboring republics under the banner “all Serbs in one State,” apologists explain that his role in this process was reactionary, seeking to keep Yugoslavia from disintegrating under outside pressure. In 1991 Serbia went to war with Croatia and again in 1992 fighting broke out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It’s worthy of note that both of these conflicts occurred only after the republics in question had moved to secede, putting at least some of the impetus for conflict outside Milosevic’s court, an important but often overlooked factor in assigning blame for the ensuing destruction.

Fighting and Byzantine political maneuvers roiled the region for the next few years. The second conflict in particular grabbed the world’s attention, with Muslim Bosniacs pitted against Serbian forces and local Serb paramilitaries. This violence triggered in response the first offensive use of NATO – not the first since the end of the Cold War, but the first ever - in 1995. Dubbed Operation Deliberate Force, NATO’s fierce bombing of Serb positions had the Bosnian War decided and called off before the year was out. Peace was re-established with the Dayton Accords but sanctions were imposed and Yugoslavia was left a Pariah state, withdrawing from the European mainstream (the OSCE) and even leaving the United Nations.

As war raged in the north during the early 1990s, Kosovo languished under total Serbian governance with the Albanian majority locked out in an apartheid system. Poverty and unemployment reached catastrophic levels, swelling the ranks of the dispossessed, desperate, and well-armed. On April 22, 1996, four attacks on Serbian civilians and security personnel were carried out simultaneously in several parts of Kosovo. A hitherto unknown organization calling itself the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) claimed responsibility, and it all went downhill from there. Milosevic cranked up the pressure of repression and ushered in the widely publicized phase of paramilitary terror: prison camps, mass rapes and massacres ensued – at least in Western accounts - and demanded the West’s leadership.

Criticism from Washington and Brussels cited the violence in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo as unilateral Serbian “ethnic cleansing,” casting Milosevic as the Hitler of the 1990s, seeking to kill or drive away as many innocent Croats/Bosniacs/Albanians as possible and Serbianize the regions by force. While not entirely untrue, this is a simplification of the situation that serves to distort the issue and give NATO moral carte blanche. For example, Western citizens heard hardly a mention of outside involvement in the Yugoslav civil wars like that presented by Canadian economist, researcher, and critic of globalization Michel Chossudovsky. In an essay written in October 2001, he brought attention to a 1994 report of the London-based International Media Corporation which noted tacit US approval of transfer by Iran of weapons to the separatists in Bosnia. Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers were even landed in Croatia and marched into Bosnia, and the report further noted that “the United States is now actively participating in the arming and training of the Muslim forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina.” [3]

These charges were serious enough to be used by a Republican Party Committee report published in 1997 that criticized the Clinton administration for “complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo.” It noted the policy’s personal approval by he U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, NSC Director Anthony Lake, and President Clinton himself. [4] Despite the political heat this could have applied to Clinton, such activities served the interests of the Anglo-American empire, which are bi-partisan, and so it was allowed to be buried and forgotten as focus shifted to other scandals, making such support into an invisible weapon that made Milosevic’s action seem yet more unjust as he seemed to battle the brave Bosnians for no good reason except blind ethnic hatred.

Such covered-up outside support is also seriously alleged to have flowed in Kosovo, to the militant KLA. Michel Chossudovsky tackled this angle as well, citing British military sources to argue that “the task of arming and training of the KLA had been entrusted in 1998 to the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Britain's Secret Intelligence Services MI6” along with former British Air Force vets from the 22 SAS Regiment and private Anglo-American security companies. [5] On the other end, the KLA is linked by some evidence to Osama bin Laden’s Islamist and criminal activities in the Balkans; Chossudovsky cited Kosovo as part of the conduit for Afghan opium on its way to refineries and markets in Europe. Supplying roughly 80% of the street supply there, this massive operation is said to have helped bin Laden fund his operations in Afghanistan, and the KLA was reportedly in on the trade. [6] And on the return end, it’s well known that along with Kashmir and Chechnya, Kosovo was one of the main export regions for Islamist militants training at the Afghan camps.

A brief survey of Chossudovsky’s evidence shows that the Bin Laden-KLA-Anglo-American link and the Iranian-Bosnian-Anglo-American link both follow a similar pattern; both helped provoke Belgrade into open hostilities, both times followed up with NATO wars against Serbia. There was enough evidence all in all for US-based Bosnian Serb historian and analyst Srdja Trifkovic to call this “the biggest unknown scandal of the Clinton years.” “Throughout the 1990's,” Trifkovic wrote, “the U.S. government effectively aided and abetted bin Laden's operations in the Balkans, long after he was recognized as a major security threat to the United States.” [7] Bin Laden was not the big enemy just yet, and at the time it seems plausible that he and his allies were seen as simply convenient tools to help pry Yugoslavia apart.

This would be well within the lines of how Osama had begun his Islamist adventures in Afghanistan. At the urging of National Security Adviser Brzezinski, president Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the anti-Communist opposition in Kabul on July 3, 1979. With this aid, “we didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would,” Brzezinski explained. [8] Thus the Soviet invasion of December was the result of a conscious American plan to trick the USSR into “its Vietnam War,” with the Muslim guerillas secretly funded, armed, and trained by the U.S. and its allies (notably Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) to “make the Soviets bleed for as much, as long as possible” [9] Zbig continued to boast of this whole deal as “an excellent idea” even as late as a January 1998 interview with a French paper. Just six months before bin Laden started blowing up American embassies. [10]

Next: The Limits of Air Power/The Pariah’s Club

[1] Sell, Louis. Page 140-141.
[2] Mahairas, Evangelos. The Breakup of Yugoslavia.
[3], [4], [5], [6] Chossudovsky. “Osamagate.” Center for Research on Globalization. October 9, 2001. Accessed December 15, 2004 at:
[7], [8] December 2001. Chronicles Intelligence Assessment. Srdja Trifovic “Osama bin Laden: The Balkans Connection.”
[9] CNN. Cold War Experience. Episode 20. Soldiers of God. Accessed November 9, 2005 at:
[10] Johnson, Chalmers. Abolish the CIA!. November 5 2004. Accessed November 6, 2005 at:§ionID=11


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 4/8/07

It should be no surprise that Ukrainian democracy guerillas looking to drift their country closer to Europe would want to tap into the well-established nexus of western-funded and native-organized revolutionary movements. Initially links between Otpor vets and a first wave of Ukrainian activists were established in 2003. [1] Just as Kmara picked up the methods and logo of Otpor in Belgrade in 2003, eighteen young Ukrainians made their own pilgrimage to that same Mecca of revolution in the spring of 2004. They met with Otpor leaders at a seminar in Novi Sad before returning home to put the valuable lessons to use.

Otpor even sent its own volunteers into Ukraine to work with the youth movement forming there. Indeed, two of the leaders from Belgrade, Aleksandar Maric, [2] and Marko Markovych [3] were turned away at the border when they attempted entry. (Markovych later applied for citizenship in Ukraine to work on revolution there full time) But others got in just fine when they were needed, and taught the Ukrainians what they knew. One of the Serbian trainers, Sinisa Sikman, later explained “we helped educate them on how to campaign, how to organize themselves, how to focus their message and energy and motivate voters.” [4]

Pora logo
Pora! Logo as pictured on their flag – note the absence of a fist.

The brave and optimistic young people who rose up in Ukraine chose as their obligatory one-word slogan Pora! (“It’s Time”). While Kmara in Georgia seems to have been created specifically for the 2003 anti-Shevy campaign, Pora was first formed in 2002 from the hard-core activists who had participated in “Ukraine Without Kuchma!” and other protest movements from as far back as 2000. [5]

There were actually two wings formed, Yellow Pora and Black Pora, with divided responsibilities. The yellow wing focused on candidates and political-level work, essentially a constituent party within the emerging “Freedom of Choice” coalition. [6] Black Pora made its first public moves in early 2004, posting fliers across the country in March calling on Ukrainians to remove “Kuchma-ism” from their minds. It was the kids of the black wing who linked up with Otpor in 2003, and it was they who more closely mimicked Otpor, keeping the decentralized structure, and focusing on branding activism and mobilizing the street protests.

While Pora drew great inspiration from Otpor, they chose not to directly mimic their iconography as Kmara had in Georgia. The Ukrainian activists instead developed their own images; their equivalent of the clenched fist was a ticking clock set at 11:45, incorporated as the “O” in the Cyrillic rendition of P-O-R-A. And they made excellent use of graphics, from the “Orange Sunrise” pyramid to ones with more aggressive imagery such as a giant boot crushing a cockroach. These were repeated ad infinitum on mass-produced t-shirts, posters, pamphlets, bumper stickers, etc.

Pora started to work “weeding out” corrupt officials; who was a weed and who a flower was sorted out by blacklists, compiled by both yellow and black wings. Yanukovych's Regions party cited these lists as reason enough for the Security Service to ban Pora as terrorists seeking another popular coup as had occurred in Georgia. [7] Indeed, Liberty Institute’s Givi Targamadze, along with several other Georgian parliamentarians visited Kiev and shared their knowledge and experience of civil disobedience with the newly created Pora. Targamadze allegedly used a televised interview in Ukraine to give activists specific instructions about things such as seizing strategically important buildings. [8] Kmara delegates were also allegedly involved in this trip, and Pora sent its own representatives to Tbilisi to learn more from Kmara members on their own turf.

Well-advised and eventually numbering in excess of 10,000 members, Pora used civil disobedience and Otpor-Kmara-style street theater tactics to agitate against Kuchma’s regime in Kiev and elsewhere. Ian Traynor noted “their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime.” Pora member Alina Shpak explained their approach; “we mocked the power as much as possible. You can't be afraid of someone you're laughing at.” [9] So they weren’t afraid of Kuchma’s designated successor, who was laughed at widely for the “egg incident;” on a September 24 visit to western Ukraine (Ivano-Frankivsk), an opposition activist threw an egg at Yanukovych in public. BBC News explained the victim “collapsed to the ground, groaning and clutching his chest. Initially hospitalised in intensive care, he recovered within hours and went on television to say he felt sorry for the ‘wayward’ youngster who had thrown the egg.” [10] Pora-types noted the loser-like behavior and took heart.

Not everyone was so daring, and as in Serbia, the young activists organized harmless, humorous street happenings. For example Pora dumped a mound of pumpkins in a Kiev street in a “Pumpkins for Yanukovych” action. This had the benefit of keeping to the orange color scheme decided on for the revolution, chosen for its cheerful vibrancy and its discernability from the traditional Ukrainian colors blue and yellow – taking the yellow and shifting it to orange, directly chromatically opposed to blue, the color of the governing party. But the main thing about pumpkins in Ukraine, and the point of the action, is the rural custom of a girl rejecting an inferior suitor by handing him one. It was an inderect, culturally appropriate, and pointed way of telling Kuchma he was out - the people had accepted a different husband.

[1], [3], [5], [6]. [7] Kuzio, Taras. "Pora! takes two different paths." Eurasia DailyMonitor. February 2 2005.
[2]. [4] Vasovic, Aleksandar. "At root of Ukraine's revolution, the disciplined crowd." San FranciscoGate. December 11 2004.
[8] Anjaparidze, Zaal. "Georgian Advisers Stepping Forward in Bishkek." Eurasia Daily Monitor. Volume 2, Issue 59 (March 25, 2005)
[9] Traynor, Ian. "Young democracy guerrillas join forces: From Belgrade to Baku, activists gather to swap notes on how to topple dictators." The Guardian. June 6 2005.,,1499871,00.html
[10] Profile: Viktor Yanukovych Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK



The former Soviet republic of Georgia, birthplace of Josef Stalin, is a fractious little land in the volatile and strategically important Caucasus - a ridge of mountains between the Caspian and Black Seas shoehorned between Russia, Turkey and Iran (and, yes, the origin of the word “Caucasian.”) Georgia shares borders with former SSRs Armenia and Azerbaijan, in a near-constant war over disputed territory. Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge is just across the border from the conflict-torn Russian republic of Chechnya, and frequently absorbs Chechens hiding from Russia’s reach. Georgia itself is torn by internal divisions; separatist struggles between ethnic Russians and Georgians in Abkhazia killed thousands and marred the country’s transition to independence in the early 1990s. A United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was set up in 1993 to monitor the cease-fire, its mandate renewed by the UN Security Council every six months. UNOMIG remained for a decade before being expanded in 2003, and in 2006 is still in place, awaiting a final settlement thirteen years later.

Russians were among the UNOMIG observers but were excluded from its military security force. However peace-keepers under Russian command were also deployed in Abkhazia alongside the UN, part of the overall pattern of domination Moscow reserved in Georgia, part of the southern outpost of Moscow’s withered Empire. Though an agreement to pull the troops out was reached with the OSCE-brokered Istanbul Accords of 1999, a controversial rotating force of Russian troops and heavy weaponry remains in Abkhazia into 2006, with smaller forces and Russian-sponsored militias remaining in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Ajaria.

As late as 2001 Russian troops had been sent into the Pankisi Gorge to ferret out Chechen rebels, but the Russian role there was taken over by Georgian troops, trained since May 2002 by American Special Forces as part of its “War on Terror.” In addition to fighting Chechen bad guys, Political analyst Matthew Riemer succinctly explained, the U.S. policy was “to strengthen an independent, Moscow-free Georgia that would eventually become a member of NATO and the European Union,” a shift that would be enabled by privatization and Western capital injections. [1]

The most obvious investment was in westbound Caspian oil pipelines; Georgia’s capital Tbilisi was attractive to Western investors as the middle link in at least two ambitious Europe-bound pipelines through the Caucasus alley. Both originate in Baku, Azerbaijan and pass through Tbilisi before diverging. The more famous of the two is set to end at Ceyhan, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. A consortium of companies headed by British Petroleum backed this Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, and President Bush has endorsed it by name as furthering his energy policy as work began on laying it in May 2003. [2] The Baku-Tbilisi-Supsa (BTS) pipeline was set to end at Georgia’s coast to feed 120,000 to 150,000 barrels a day of Azerbaijani oil into an underground pipeline beneath the Black Sea to Europe. Soros’ EurasiaNet described how these pipelines “will allow both Georgia and Azerbaijan to more effectively resist geopolitical pressure exerted by Russia.” [3] The flip side, of course, is the ability they could give the West to exert such leverage against Russia.

President Shevardnadze, problematic US ally and target of the Rose Revolution
In these efforts the West worked closely - or tried to - with long-term Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. He was a former Soviet heavyweight: KGB officer, Chairman of Georgian Communist Party, and Soviet Foreign Minister from Gorbachev’s ascendancy in 1985. In December 1990 he dramatically resigned both his post and his Party membership, complaining of a resurgence of hard line military types. “Boys in colonels’ epaulettes are pushing the country to dictatorship,” he declared in a speech from the floor of the Supreme Soviet on his resignation, eight months before those boys would try to overthrow his ally Gorbachev. [4]

After the USSR collapsed, Russian President Yeltsin sent Shevardnadze to reign in the chaos in his native Georgia, where President Zviad Gamsakhurdia had been deposed in a coup while the region of Abkhazia had moved to split and civil war broke out. He took effective control in Tbilisi in mid-1992, and when stability allowed was finally elected president in mid-1995. While somewhat dictatorial by Western standards, Shevardnadze was no Milosevic. He had charted a path amenable to the US, generally playing Russia and the West against each other as so many other nations did during the Cold War. In 1994-1995, he collaborated with Azerbaijan’s leadership on a Western-backed transportation and energy corridor the Europeans dubbed Transportation Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRASECA). The BTS oil pipeline was the first phase of this ambitious endeavor that Ariel Cohen noted “will create relatively few jobs and relatively little transit-tariff revenue for Georgia.” [5]

As Soviet Foreign Minister “Shevy,” as the Americans came to call him, had been a great help in the prelude to the 1991 Gulf War; he grew so close to Secretary of State James Baker, the Texan once sang the standard Georgia on My Mind to him in one of their less formal meetings in Wyoming. [6] The Georgian leader also proved a workable ally in the post-9/11 world; in addition to allowing American special forces in 2002, he also offered enthusiastic support for the controversial 2003 Iraq War. Georgia was a proud member of the “Coalition of the Willing” (with 400 troops as of mid-2005, including special forces, medics and engineers, at least seven wounded so far.) [7] President Shevardnadze addressed his countrymen as the war opened, explaining that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was “a totalitarian regime […] which poses a threat to the whole region.” He reiterated the Washington line that the coalition was forced to take on the role that the UN Security Council should have fulfilled (Recall Russia’s resounding “Nyet” vote). He also noted that a Georgian-US partnership “could help Georgia resurrect its territorial integrity and resolve a number of economic issues.” [8]

Yet while useful to Washington, Shevardnadze was ever more unpopular with his own people, whose patience was wearing thin on territorial integrity and those economic issues as well as widespread official corruption, which the president seemed incapable of stopping. Presented in 1999 by his old friend James Baker with the esteemed “Enron Prize for Distinguished Public Service,” by 2003 Shevardnadze’s government was increasingly seen as plagued with corruption, mismanagement, and secrecy. [9] These problems steadily drained Shevardnadze’s power like a hole in his gas tank and strategically vital Georgia began to look rather vulnerable to another round of instability and violence, sure to put the brakes on any pipeline with a “T” in the middle. Major protests had been staged off-and-on since 2001; criticism from the media was squashed with raids on the opposition stations, while political protest was met with dismissal of the government. US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced at one point “an unstable Georgia automatically results in an unstable Caucasus,” a statement some took to mean that rather than expend more political capital propping Shevy up, the Americans should “ditch him to ensure stability.” [10]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted April 11 2007

Ultimately weaponized nonviolence failed to replace outright war in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean some people didn’t push to give peace a chance to bring down the Butcher of Baghdad. As the long-suffering citizens of Iraq turned out for the October 2002 Presidential “election,” it was clear that there was little chance of change by that route. Banners across the country urged Iraqis to vote “Yes, yes, yes for Saddam,” a message reinforced by both outright State power and by state radio repetition of Hussein’s campaign song – reportedly I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, another sign of his relentless cruelty. [1] As with previous elections, marked ballots were used so those who voted no, no, no against Saddam would be known, and thus the Iraqi dictator hoped to match the 99.96 percent affirmation he had previously claimed. Exiled opposition leader Ismail Zayer described the election as “a forced pledge of loyalty […] The whole practice is a fiasco, orchestrated by a regime that does not believe in the people's voice. […] Their real voices, if given the choice, will say no to Saddam loud and clear.” [2]

Iraqi dissident and No to Saddam founder Ismael Zayer in 2004
Zayer had already been saying it himself for a while, and working with other Iraqi exiles had formed his own organization actually called “No to Saddam.” The organization was patterned to some extent on Otpor and was committed to severing Saddam’s dictatorship with massive strikes and other nonviolent civil insurgent tactics. [3] He proposed that the world should neither tolerate Saddam’s Tyranny nor resort to carpet bombing – Zayer called his approach “The Third Choice.” [4] “We have already succeeded in establishing a small network within the country and are planning a clandestine media campaign,” promised Zayer, a journalist by trade. [5]

One demonstration he seems to have organized early on “really opened people's eyes.” Demonstrators in Baghdad shouted pro-Saddam chants as cover for taking over the streets, refusing to allow their patriotic display to be dispersed even by warning gunshots. Saddam was not looking for an excuse to crack down as the US war machine loomed, and so no one died. “Many thought such protests were not possible,” Zayer said, but they had been emboldened by the positive example. [6]

He had hoped initially to forge a millions-strong civil insurgency, and approached US decision-makers about helping him. While overall support remained muted and Zayer’s group received almost no media coverage even after the war, some influential people in the regime change industry did answer the call. John Bacher reported in Peace magazine that a seminar was held in 2001 to discuss the possibility of such a campaign. Hosted by Peter Ackerman’s Center for Nonviolent Conflict, Woolsey’s Freedom House, and the US Institute for Peace, this reported gathering occurred “almost a year after the successful nonviolent Serbian Revolution of 2000,” so right around the time of the September 11 attacks, one would presume before. Details like exact date, location, speakers and itinerary remain unclear, but it seems to have been in Western Europe.

This 2001 seminar was followed by a two-day workshop in Washington called “Prospects for Democratic Change in Iraq,” held at American University on May 24 and 25 2002. It was organized by the Iraq Institute For Democracy, based in “Iraqi Kurdistan” and sponsored by Freedom House. A tentative itinerary I located online listed the legendary Robert Helvey as set to speak right before lunch during session two, “Civilian-based Resistance and Regime Change in Iraq.” Jack DuVall and Peter Ackerman from the Center for Nonviolent Conflict were also to present in this session; collectively they were to address three topics: “1. The record of nonviolent conflict in bringing down a dictator 2. Developing a strategy for Iraqi civilian resistance 3. International assistance for civilian-based action in Iraq.” [7] At this session as in his earlier venture in Burma, Bacher explained, “Helvey's military experience helped persuade skeptical Iraqi exiles that nonviolence is a viable approach.” [8]

Helvey's strongest supporter at the May strategy session was reportedly Ismael Zayer, and for the next year Helvey proceeded to help him pursue the Third Choice, delivering preliminary training to 50 leaders of No to Saddam. [9] Presumably the group was considered a central element of any such planned upheaval, but “unfortunately,” Bacher reported, “[Zayer’s] effort was not assisted by other countries and only thousands of Iraqis took part - far short of the millions he had hoped for.” He diligently continued the crusade, asking European supporters to send monitors to future Iraqi elections. In a phone interview on the eve of the Iraq War’s commencement, Zayer pleaded that “to achieve the third choice, we need help. Not with armies or with money,” he explained from his home in the Netherlands. “We need help in the form of nonviolent training to protect ourselves from Saddam and his agents. We can do it, but we need help now.” [10]

Next: Washington’s answer: No to Zayer, Yes to Force Presence

[1], [2] “In Iraqi vote today, choice is Hussein or ... Hussein.” St. Petersburg Times (Florida). Compiled from Times wires - published October 15, 2002.
[3], [4], [8], [9], [10] Bacher, John. “Robert Helvey's Expert Political Defiance”
Peace Magazine. Apr-Jun 2003, p.10.
[5], [6], Bacher, John. “The Price for Peace: How a Cool $45 million could solve Saddam problem.”
[7] Partial Schedule of event, found at:


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
April 11 2007

The president of the Albert Einstein Institution as of 2006 is retired US Army Colonel Robert Helvey, a longtime proponent of Sharp’s theories. More than anyone else it has been Helvey who has weaponized his mentor’s ideas of nonviolent conflict and put it to use in the field. He holds a BA and MA from Marshall University, is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, and US Navy War College. [1] He has 30 years of experience in Southeast Asia, including two tours of duty in Vietnam (awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, January 1968). [2] Helvey has also worked with the U.S. Defense Intelligence College, which is in turn connected to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in which he was reportedly an officer. [3] Exact details of his life and career remain somewhat vague, but among other posts he held, from 1983 until 1985 Helvey was a US military attaché at the American Embassy in Rangoon, the capital of Burma. The Colonel later described how he became dismayed by the utter futility of the two-decade-old US-backed armed struggle against the military dictatorship there. [4]

Col. Robert Helvey, leading strategist of nonviolent struggle.
He spent his last years of military service mulling over this dilemma, the final year in an academic setting. Curiously, he wound up with a senior fellowship at Harvard's Center for International Affairs, where he happened to hear about a lecture on nonviolent sanctions to be given by the department’s esteemed professor Gene Sharp. Helvey later recalled how Sharp “started out the seminar by saying 'Strategic nonviolent struggle is all about political power,” spurring Helvey to muse “Boy is this guy speaking my language, that is what armed struggle is about.” [5] An article from Peace magazine, April 2003 explained:

“From conversations with Sharp and like-minded colleagues at the Albert Einstein Institution, Helvey learned a systematic strategy of resistance. For example, he learned to avoid exposed situations that could lead to heavy casualties such as the protest in 1988 when 3,000 unarmed students were massacred in Rangoon. He came to see that even greater pressure could be applied to the regime with less risky tactics, such as having people simply stay at home during a general strike.” [6]

After officially retiring from the Army in 1991, Helvey took Sharp’s ideas to a wider audience of influential people. He soon secured funding to go back to Burma to spread his message and, if possible, test the technique. From 1992-98 Helvey made over a dozen trips to the Thai-Burmese border to meet with leaders of pro-democracy groups there. He developed and taught a six-week course, with students cycling through in shifts to work on confidence building, identifying the regime's weaknesses, and forming “usable pressure groups.” When confronted by Burmese leaders who scoffed at non-violence against the thugs in charge, Helvey started using the more militant-sounding phrase “political defiance,” which, he stressed, “like military struggle, is both an art and a science. To be effective, it must be studied and carried out with skill and discipline.” [7]

The training Helvey brought to Burma is still used, in line as it is with the non-violent tactics stressed by “the Lady,” Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Modern Burma’s founding father. Helvey describes Suu Kyi, under house arrest for years, as “the symbol of the entire pro-democracy movement. Without her, the movement has not demonstrated the ability to take on strategic struggle.” It was reportedly at Suu Kyi’s urging that Sharp's book FDTD was translated, published, and smuggled into Burma. [8] So far the repressive regime is still in power, but Suu Kyi maintains a strong following and has gradually been given more freedom, and thankfully there have been no more massacres like the one in 1988. But direct success or not, Helvey adopted and championed Sharp’s approach to winning conflicts, retired and became a man of peace heading the AEI as it embarked on its many adventures. Over the following years and the course of this book, Helvey would fulfill an important niche in the real-world implementation of Sharp’s ideas in over a half-dozen countries. Some of his handiwork will play a role in the following chapters.

Next: The American End: Overt Ops/A Bi-Partisan Effort

[1] About AEI > Staff & Board > Bob Helvey, President. Accessed at:
[2] First Cavalry Division Distiguished Service cross Recipients. Acc. June 12 2006 at:
[3] Mowat, Jonathan. “Coup d'État in Disguise: Washington's New World Order "Democratization" Template.” February 9, 2005.
[4], [6], [7] Bacher, John. "Robert Helvey's Expert Political Defiance." Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2003, p.10.
[5] Mowat, Jonathan. "The new Gladio in action? Ukrainian postmodern coup completes testing of new template." Online Journal. March 19 2005.
[8] Rozen, Laura. "Dictator downturn: It just isn't as easy being a tyrant as it used to be." Salon. February 3 2001.

Friday, April 6, 2007


At the heart of a disintegrating Yugoslavia is the ancient land of Serbia, a nation with a strong sense of self and a long memory. A particularly poignant and long-standing element of Serbian nationalism is the “Kosovo myth,” a 600-year old specter hovering over a site called Kosovo Polje (the field of blackbirds), from which the modern region of Kosovo in southern Serbia takes its name. It was here that Serb forces were vanquished in a major battle with the Islamic Ottoman Turks in the year 1389, an epic loss marked every year, on June 28, as the vidovnan, or St. Vitus’ Day - the most significant date in the Serbian calendar. For centuries they nurtured the dark memory under Turkish rule, only to emerge by struggle and Ottoman decay and re-enter “the European mainstream” in the early 1800s. The re-emergence of the Serbian kingdom into a much-changed Europe opened them to new oppressors. Serbia and its surrounding areas were wrangled over by the Austrian empire (and increasingly Germany) – who had the advantage of proximity – and the Russian empire, which had the advantage of common Slavic identity with the Serbs and a serious drive to gain influence over the shipping lanes to warm water ports to the Mediterranean Sea.

By the early 1900s the Austro-Hungarian Empire had taken effective control of the region that would become Yugoslavia, to the dismay of Russian-supported Serb nationalists. In the spring of 1914, a small group of them associated with the “Black Hand” society was tipped off that Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand would visit the Capital, then Sarajevo, to oversee regional military operations. His date of arrival was listed as June 28. One of the young men involved later fumed “how dared Franz Ferdinand, not only the representative of the oppressor but in his own person an arrogant tyrant, enter Sarajevo on that day? Such an entry was a studied insult.” To clarify that it was the date that clinched the deal, the conspirator noted “only four letters and two numbers were sufficient to make us unanimous, without discussion, as to what we should do about it.” [1] The Archduke’s killing on the 525th commemoration of the vidovnan of course set into motion the chain of events that led to World War I, which finally eliminated the power of both the Ottomans and the reviled Austrians, but also killed half of Serbia’s male population.

Of course this also laid the groundwork for the Second World War in which the area was jointly occupied by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. After the war was done and the Axis was knocked down, Soviet-organized Communist rule took hold over the area, merging six republics together into the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Marshal Tito ran the country tightly during nearly the entire Cold War, but after a falling out with Stalin in 1948, he pulled his nation from the Warsaw Pact and until his death in 1980 charted a more moderate Socialist course outside the Iron Curtain, earning points with the West. Tito’s Yugoslavia posed an unusual case for America and Europe - neither a puppet nor an outright enemy, and an important member of the global Non-Aligned Movement, playing both sides against each other for maximum gain.

Serb nationalism was of course suppressed at this time in the interest of Yugoslav unity (“a weak Serbia makes a strong Yugoslavia” was the gist), but beneath the culturally muting blanket of Socialist harmony, it was a nation deeply gouged by the ridges and valleys of the Balkan Mountains and by its intense history long before being glued together in 1945. The six republics were peopled with a tense ethnic mix of Serbs, Croats, Bosniacs, Albanians, and others; many were Muslims, a remnant of centuries of Ottoman rule. Like a mini-USSR, it was ideologically Socialist and composed of numerous smaller republics united around a dominant central state (with Serbia as its Russia). Like the USSR, the glue could only hold so long.

After Tito died, the Kosovo myth was re-introduced by Serb nationalists in the 1980s in Kosovo itself, peopled with a mix of Muslim ethnic Albanians and Christian ethnic Serbs. The efforts of Kosovar Serbs to increase their population – and thus power - were outstripped by the astounding Albanian birthrate; it was the region’s Albanians, 78% of the population and overwhelmingly Muslim, who made Kosovo far and away the most densely populated part of Yugoslavia. Louis Sell, a US State Department veteran involved in the diplomatic efforts in the 1990s explained how in March 1989, the Serbian Parliament adopted a constitutional amendment stripping Kosovo of autonomy; the intention was clarified with a rally held by the newly elected president in a Kosovar town three months later. On the 600th commemoration of the Vidovnan, Slobodan Milosevic dropped onto the stage from a helicopter to dramatically welcome a million mostly Serbian attendees to “Kosovo – the heart of Serbia.” [2] He had invited American and European diplomats to the speech but they declined, and this day has been widely seen as the point of no return that led to the Kosovo conflicts, the next major test of the New World Order.

Next: Divide and Conquer/State Sponsors of Terror

[1] The Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo, 28 June 1914. Borijove Jevtic. Eyewitness to history. Ed. John Carey. New York. Avon Books. Page 442.
[2] Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. London. 2002. Duke Universiry Press. Page 88.


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 4/6/07

Putin’s Kremlin has largely reversed the privatization trend of the 1990s, notably reasserting effective state control over the media sector. District newspapers were reined in early, and the techniques that worked there were then used to bring more politics and less dissent to the pages of national newspapers [1] - like the Moscow Times, which had so recently published rather damning doubts about the Ryazan incident. [2] By 2002 the television networks were being taken over by a new management style, and by the time of an October 2005 piece that was allowed in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, “all programming on Russia's three national television networks was strictly state-controlled: usually determined at weekly meetings between network executives and presidential administration officials.” News broadcasts have become nearly identical regurgitations of the Kremlin line, and to squelch any dangerous spontaneity, “live broadcasts have almost been eliminated.” [3]

The oil and gas sectors went through a similar process. The most dramatic move on this front was the June 2005 government stock purchase in the mammoth gas company Gazprom, giving the state a stake of over 50%, a controlling interest. Thus Putin had effectively re-nationalized a company that supplies about one fourth of Europe's gas needs. This was neither the first move nor the last; the previous year the government seized a portion of the Yukos oil conglomerate over past-due back taxes, and since then has used its growing control over the world’s largest supply of natural gas to exert leverage on its neighbors and on Europe.

Closely related to this trend was the new President’s approach to the Yeltsin-era privatization Oligarchs – at least those that crossed his path as he charged into their turf. One of them, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in addition to helping drain the treasury, had basically created Yukos, advocated popular liberal policies, and used his vast wealth to finance two liberal parties opposed to Putin. [4] In October 2003 he was arrested on tax and fraud charges, just months ahead of Putin’s buyout of a portion of the company over related issues. Khodorkovsky was convicted and sentenced in May 2005, in the old school tradition, to eight years in a Siberian penal colony. [5]

Berezovsky representing “Russian Business” outside the embassy in London, May 2004.
Perhaps the most politically active of the Oligarch lot, former media mogul Boris Berezovsky - accused of gangster-ism and murder but nothing proven - started losing his vast empire in 2000 under Putin’s efforts to regain state control of the media. Fearing prosecution for corruption at home he fled and was offered asylum in London. Moscow has sought his extradition but the request was repeatedly blocked on the grounds that the U.K. had given Berezovsky political asylum and the status of refugee. The Russian News and Information Agency (RIAN) complained pointedly that “Berezovsky's deposits in British banks and the renewed vigour he brought to the local real estate market seemed more important [to London] than the legal request of a supposedly friendly nation.” [6] In 2003 Boris changed his name in the British courts to Platon Elenin, which he reportedly swiped from the lead character in a biographical movie made about himself. [7] Contrary to normal rules he was allowed to make some controversial travels in 2003 on a visa with this name. Still at large in 2006 as the “No. 1 man on Russia's most-wanted list,” RIAN announced that he was to be the test case for a tough new approach to retrieve the Diaspora Oligarchs. [8]

Animating Moscow’s desire to get their hands on the exiled tycoon is his ongoing agitation for pro-West revolutions in the former SSRs, and his public campaign to link the “abominable autocrat” Putin to the 9/99 apartment bombings that helped bring him to power. Berezovsky first announced this campaign with a March 5, 2002 press conference in London, here he announced: “I am sure the bombings were organised by the FSB. It's not just speculation. It's a clear conclusion.” He clarified “I'm not saying Mr. Putin gave an order to blow up those buildings, but at the least he knew the FSB was involved” as he blamed Chechen rebels and punished them to the tune of a major war. Berezovsky called on a British explosives expert and a former FSB officer to support his claims, which were based mostly on the size and sophistication of the operations. He also cited the Ryazan incident as proof that the FSB was involved in placing wired bags of Hexogen “sugar” in at least one apartment block during the crisis. [10]

The same day as his press conference, an official from Putin’s suddenly ominous government again blamed Chechnya and announced that Berezovsky was not to be trusted. In addition to his long-alleged links to Chechen mafia figures, he was also being investigated for links to rebel leaders and to the murder of a senior Russian police officer in Chechnya. [11] Whatever protests they may lodge against the tycoon, London will not be likely to hand him over any time soon.

Next: Reviving Great Russia/The Switch is Flipped
[1], [3] Simonov, Alexei. “Transformations of the Fourth Estate.” Original source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta. October 7, 2005. translation by Tatiana Khramtsova, appeared in Johnson's Russia List on October 10, 2005.
[2] Reynolds, Maura. “Ryazan Fears Darker Truth of Bombings.” The Moscow Times. January 18, 2000.
[4] Greene, S.A. “Kremlin Targets Jewish Tycoons In War on Critics.”
Forward. October 31 2003. Via NCSJ.
[5] Country Profile: Russia. BBC News.
[6], [8] Simonov, Vladimir. “Bad news for wanted Russian expatriates in London.” Russian News And Information Agency. July 3 2006. Accessed at:
[7] “Boris Berezovsky.” Wikipedia.
[9], [10], [11] Steele, Jonathan and Ian Traynor. “Former ally links Putin to Moscow blasts.”
The Guardian. March 6, 2002,2763,662476,00.html

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Written mid-2006, posted 4/5/07

It certainly did not go unnoticed that these arrangements totally bypassed Russian and Tajik offers and seem designed to undermine the SCO by skirting recognition of the bloc in favor of nation-to-nation deals. This backdrop of a quiet American military presence in the former Soviet Space held for the next three years as the revolutions unfolded in Georgia and Ukraine and resentments grew sharper. The next move in America’s campaign came soon after Ukraine – perhaps too soon and too far east. In Kyrgyzstan, the US basing agreement was followed by an attempt – if tentative - at a Ukraine-style revolution there, a bold stab into a stronghold of loyalty to mother Russia.

The former SSR is nestled in the Himalayan foothills, sharing convoluted borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and China’s western frontier. Despite a total lack of Caspian Sea hydrocarbons, Kyrgyzstan is an energy exporter, with hydro-electric stations fueled by raging mountain runoff promising enough power to attract substantial American investment. Political scientist Igor Ryabov summed up “Turkmenistan has gas, Kazakhstan has oil, and Kyrgyzstan has its water.” [1]

The dramatic peaks of the Tien Shan mountains also divide the country into numerous regions and remote valleys. The most important general split for the study at hand is between the poorer south (dominated by the Ferghana Valley with its restive Muslim majorities), and a well-developed north (dominated by the Capital, Bishkek). Nationwide the population of about five million is about half Kyrgyz and 20 percent Russian, [2] 75% Muslim and with an average per capita GDP of $1600. [3] Kyrgyzstan has grappled with forging a united sense of nationhood since independence, but has often failed; ethnic clashes in the south during the 1990s killed hundreds of people. [4]
The local Russian population holds great sway in the capital, and in May 2000 Russian was declared an official state language, given equal in status with Kyrgyz. Bishkek is also home to a Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, which trains political elites in the Russian tongue and is financed by the Russian government. [5] Bishkek and the north, closer to Russia in more ways than one, ruled the scene as it had under the old Soviet system. Askar Akayev, while born in the South (Jalal-Abad), rose to leadership among the Soviet-era elite. A mathematician and physicist by education who wrote his doctoral thesis on holographic systems of information storage, he was appointed in 1990 to the new post of President of the more autonomous republic. [6] Akayev held his position in Bishkek after independence and for over a decade past that. In a country racked by mafia crime and corruption, the president earned a reputation as a crusader against the opium smuggling criminal networks. Yet the situation has remained chaotic and unstable; Bishkek has seen more than its share of mafia-connected political assassinations, and the voters had had more than enough.

The US basing agreements had upset the status quo - Russia and China sought to reaffirm their prerogatives in the region, and a year later, in October 2002, Kyrgyzstan and China’s People’s Liberation Army staged their first-ever joint military exercise to co-ordinate their response to terrorism. Carried out along the common border, these were the first bilateral anti-terror exercise conducted by SCO members. [7]

But it was Russia that really rushed in to bolster Eurasian power. At the same time as the exercise with China, Moscow’s Anti-Terrorism Center decided to open in Bishkek its first regional division outside of Russia. Putin announced the idea of the Bishkek branch as “countering the threats from the south” - Islamist militants and opium flowing from American-occupied Afghanistan. [8] This was followed in November [9] and December [10] 2002 by joint Kyrgyz-Russian announcements on the dangers of terrorism and the importance of unity against it.

Two days after Christmas, an explosion at Bishkek’s main market killed seven people and injured scores. The very same day but a thousand miles away, a truck bomb detonated at the government’s headquarters in Chechnya, killing fifty and wounding hundreds. The immediate impression was of synchronized acts of terrorism aimed at Russia and its allies, and suspects linked to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan were later arrested, tried and convicted. [11] But early reports had described a container of fireworks at the market going off, detonating a gas tank in a freak accident, an account still reported as fact in a few spots. [12] Some western media outlets seem to buy the Kyrgyz version of events, and even tie the terrorists in to an alleged plot against America. [13] But otherwise the western media remains vague or ignores the episode altogether. The BBC’s timeline simply calls it an explosion, and a State Dept. chronology of every Islamist terrorist attack includes the 12-27 blast in Chechnya, but not the one in Kyrgyzstan. Either way, the synchronicity of the blasts helped tie Russia and Kyrgyzstan together on the counter-terror front just two months after the decision was made to set up the Bishkek center to that very end.

Russian military assembled at the Kant air base, Kyrgyzstan, in 2004.
A year later, Russia again marked its territory, this time on the military front, throwing a new wrinkle into the great game with Uncle Sam. In early October 2003, Putin announced the opening of a new Russian air base at Kant, near Bishkek. This was the first air base outside of Russia’s borders since the end of the Cold War, hosting Russian Air Forces as part of the CSTO’s Collective Rapid Deployment Forces. [14] The Kant base was about eighteen miles from the Americans’ Ganci base, which had been in operation for two years. A BBC correspondent traveled for the opening of the new base and to see both it and the existing American one. He joked a bit about conditions at Ganci but slammed the vibe at Kant, where it:

“wasn't so much efficient and mechanical as a bit cloak and dagger. The base was shabby and broken-down. Scruffy conscripts were wiping the jets down with filthy rags. […] Security men in overcoats strode to and fro. I felt like I was on the set of a James Bond movie, witness to some clandestine […] chess moves in an international power play.” [15]

President Putin arrived for the dedication, declared the base open, watched an air show, and addressed the media. The BBC reporter asked Putin “are you just opening this base because the Americans have one here?” “We're partners with the Americans,” Putin responded. “I'm sure we'll co-operate.” With that he closed the press conference and walked away. [16]

An agreement was reached in May 2004 by which soldiers at Kant would receive the same status as the diplomatic mission’s technical staff, making them effectively immune to criminal prosecution in Kyrgyzstan. [17] Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Askar Aitmatov visited Moscow in mid-February 2005 and immediately announced two decisions; to send more Russian military equipment and weaponry to the Kant air base, and to deny the U.S. request to deploy AWACS reconnaissance planes at Ganci air base. Aitmatov said on the 14th that a decision was made that an AWACS deployment would not fit the mission of Ganci “which is to provide support to the operation in Afghanistan,” not to spy on Russia and other SCO signatories. [18] So the government there seemed to have sided with the Russians, encouraging a slow growth of their capabilities there while curtailing or at least limiting the Americans’.

[1] Arutunyan, Anna. “Geopolitics at Heart of Kyrgyzstan Unrest.” MosNews. March 23 2005
[2], [5] Olcott, Martha Brill. “Regional study on Human Development and Human Rights – Central Asia.” Human development background report 2000. United Nations Development Program. Accessed May 22 2006 at:
[3] Kyrgyzstan: Almanac Facts. Acc June 24 2005 at:
[4] “Kyrgyz Leader Akayev Defies Protests, Rules out Force.” MosNews. March 23 2005.
[6] “Askar Akayev.” Wikipedia. Last modified September 22 2006.
[7] “Twelve Military exercises: A chronology.” China Daily. August 19 2005.
[8] Socor, Vladimir “CIS Antiterrorism Center: Marking Time in Moscow, Refocusing on Bishkek.” Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Washington D.C. November 3, 2002. Accessed April 10 2006 at:
[9] Burke, Justin. “CIS antiterrorist centre in Kyrgyzstan ensures unity and cooperation.” December 18, 2002. Accessed April 10, 2006 at:
[10] Text of report by Kyrgyz Radio first programme, Bishkek, December 19 in Russian 1500 gmt
[13] Baker, Peter. “A Confessed Bomber's Trail of Terror: Uzbek Details Life With Islamic Radicals, Turn Back to Violence.” Washington Post Foreign Service. Thursday, September 18, 2003; Page A01
[14], [17] “Russian Military in Kyrgyzstan Granted Diplomatic Immunity.” MosNews. May 11 2004.
[15], [16] Grammaticas, Damian. “Military rivalry in Kyrgyzstan.” BBC News, Bishkek, October 25 2003.
[18] Saidazimova, Gulnoza. “Kyrgyzstan: Is Bishkek Moving Toward Russia Ahead of Elections?” RFE/RL via EurasiaNet. February 15 2005.


Once the initial sweetness of Otpor’s example and the bloodless revolution faded, a sort of saccharine aftertaste in the Serbian mind became evident. Brian Pozun wrote for Central Europe Review in early 2001:

“Ostensibly, the movement accepted Western aid to promote their goal of a purged, democratized Serbia. When it became clear, however, that Western governments were involved, many in Yugoslavia and elsewhere began to wonder what sort of return those generous governments will want on their investment in Otpor. [1]

Citing Milosevic’s ads that had Otpor’s fist stuffed with American dollars, Pozun explains, “many are left wondering just how far off the ad really was.” In another play from Milosevic’s propaganda campaign, the President made public an intercepted, top-secret CIA plan to remove him from power by supporting Otpor and other such groups. But the paper Milosevic cited was in fact an openly available plan to unseat him by supporting and training the opposition. It was a memorandum to the US Congress, written by Daniel Server at the US Institute of Peace, recommending a trial run of Sharp’s and Helvey’s strategic nonviolence. It was Milosevic’s secret police that made the changes to make it appear secret and CIA-sponsored, and thus sinister. [2] But again, despite the creative license, the paper was otherwise presented as written, and we must wonder how far off the mark Milosevic really was.

Peace magazine in 2003 described how American support for Otpor “benefited from a temporary consistency and coherence in American foreign policy during the Clinton presidency, which actually pursued the strategies advocated by Gene Sharp.” [3] The Server letter Milosevic cited led to Congressional approval of $41-$45 million for the project (overall estimates vary). While NATO set its bomb sights, the article explains, “sanctions were applied in a more targeted fashion. For example, they were not applied to municipalities that voted to support opposition politicians.” To further the freeing of Serbian minds in other towns, Radio transmitters were set up in Eastern Europe and organized into a “Ring Around Serbia,” beaming in western media like the BBC, Agence France-Presse, and Voice of America. Other actions approved included the US Treasury Department’s freezing of Milosevic’s assets tracked down to banks in Cyprus. [4] Not being able to pay one’s security forces can’t help one’s cause.

The revelations that Otpor in fact had been part and parcel of the well-orchestrated American-led campaign that had also produced the bombings and the ‘Allo ‘Allo re-runs eroded the widely held view of Otpor as spontaneous, grass-roots people's movement. While they were still free of Milosevic and sanctions, the sunshine of public optimism was now overcast with doubts. Serbia’s youth had been co-opted into a “post-military weapons system” of the NATO campaign, a troubling precedent to ponder. Originally they had felt their country was under attack because of their leader’s wrongdoing, but now had to reflect on one of Milosevic’s last speeches; on October 2, as Otpor and the DOS “NATO foot soldiers” closed the noose on him, Milosevic explained that his people had it all backwards. “It should be clear to all, after the past ten years, that NATO isn't attacking Serbia because of Milosevic; it is attacking Milosevic because of Serbia.” [5] Just three days later the attack was complete, Milosevic was removed from the scene, and the DOS took control of Serbia and started selling it to the West.

Monday, April 2, 2007

TERROR OF 9/99 {masterlist}

Originally posted at the 12/7-9/11 Treadmill Page
Re-posted at Guerillas Without Guns 4/6/07
All sub-post links lead back to the other page

This post is to organize all those related to the "Terror of 9/99," the series of apartment bombings in Russian cities in 1999 that triggered the Second Chechen War and paved the way of Vladimir Putin to the Presidency. Since the beginning, Putin's career has been shadowed by widespread suspicion that Putin or an ally, not Chechen terrorists, was actually behind the bombings. like the hardcore 9/99 Truthers, I believe the Russian state was behind the campaign, though the full story is certainly more complex. I sense weird forces at work.

Notes on terminology/weird thoughts about weird coincidences:
9/99 is itself not a universally accepted name for the episode, but I took it up due to its catchiness and similarity to the branding of 9/11, which helps me illustrate my argument about that event. I first saw the term on the English-language Russian site Terror-99. I'm not sure, but I would guess that this site excellent and damning website is supported by Boris Berezovsky and other questionable anti-Putin characters - so while their facts seem fairly solid and the case itself is remarkably easy to make, I question their true motives. I also got a bit of a chill one day when I realized recently that 9/99 upside down is 666, the mark of the Beast. I don't believe in such nonsense, but many others do, and some have gone to pains to avoid the branding. Wikipedia's "Russian Apartment Bombings" page mentions the number "9/99" only in the sources, referring to the above website. A Google search of "9/99" shows a few sources, including me, and "terror of 9/99" reveals only and myself. (Gulp). I'm on Putin's radar with the illicit inverted 66/6.

But what else could he expect? A series of bombings with 300 dead as they slept, dated 9/4, 9/9, 9/13, and 9/16 - with no precise date, we could pick the midpoint between the two middle bombings (which is reasonable since these happened in the capital and killed the most) - but that gives us 9/11, which doesn't have the same emergency implications as it does in America and it was left unused for the Americans' use two years later. But it wasn't about a single day, but rather a month, that bleak and nervous September as block after block was demolished - Black September 1999 - the Terror of 9/99 on the precipice of the Millenium. Some say it was Putin's 666 devil deal for power, the most logical name for it has that built right in, and if he did it himself, he had to have known this would happen. Couldn't it have waited 'till October?

Oh well - I guess as in America people see what they want to - those predisposed to see fire and horns see that, the rest who can't stomach the thought and face the obvious would argue Putin couldn't or wouldn't do that. Facts are of secondary nature to such strongly held beliefs and rarely can do much to change them. But it's worth a try.

Aftermath of 9/13 in Moscow, New President Putin resolute in January, Russian troops re-enter Grozny in October - kind of the wrong order I guess but you get the picture.

Wikipedia entry: Russian Apartment Bombings. They cite September 8 for the first bombing in Moscow, but I stick to the date from the Terror 99 site, which is from Russian Primary sources. Plus 9/8 throws off the spooky 9/11 hinge point.

- 9/99 part I: Putin's Godsend

- 9/99 part II: The Ryazan Incident - The Bombing that didn't Happen?

- 9/99 part III: The Investigation - The official investigation, PR campaign, the Kovalev Commission, its supporters, and its troubles. people die here.

- 9/99 part IV: The Conspiracy Theory - an "independent" investigation formed in London, pushed by exiled oligarchs, KGB/FSB defectors, and US Seantors. More people die here, and Europe is thrown into a subcontinent-wide radiation scare.

Next: State Control and Oligarch Retrieval