Dmitry Babich is a political analyst with the Voice of Russia radio station
American journalists who are now covering the investigation of the terrorist act in Boston and who have worked in Russia in the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, may experience a feeling of déjà vu. The parents of the suspects in the terrorist act (let’s put it correctly from the legal point of view) – the Tsarnaev brothers - say that all the charges against their sons are "lies and disinformation" (and of course, the authors of this disinformation are secret services).
The mother of the Boston demolitionists, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, says that the elder brother, Tamerlane, was allegedly killed ONLY AFTER the arrest (she refers to some video on the Internet, where a person resembling Tamerlane is being led into a police car). The younger brother also has his own advocates: groups like "Free Dzhokhar!" and "Dzhokhar is innocent!" pop up on the Chechen Internet.
American journalists with the Chechen experience remember such "conspiracy theories" very well. They remember, how the explosions of apartment houses in Moscow and Volgodonsk in 1999 were presented as "a provocations of Russian special services"; and how the blame for the attacks in Dubrovka and Beslan was also laid on some anonymous conspirators in the Russian leadership. Everybody was to blame, except the terrorists, who always turned out to be "framed", "used" or "cheated" by someone. Then - in 1999, and in 2002, and in 2004 - the American media willingly believed all these conspiracy theories. They put to use everything that could lower the rating (if not domestic, at least international) of Putin, whom the world press was not overfond of for some reason.
And now we have a feeling of déjà vu. Again we see the same faces, and headscarves, and hear the same hysterical cries, lamentations, accusations in the address of some nasty officials (American ones, this time) - in short, we hear everything except the recognition of one’s guilt and repentance. Only this time the accusations are addressed not to Russia, but to the USA. That is the difference. And for some reason there are not many volunteers among the American media to bring charges of all kinds of conspiracies against their own government. The dominant sentiment in the newspapers - from such giants as the New York Times to small sheets, published somewhere in Massachusets - is surprise: "How could it be that such people could grow up among us?" The Washington Post even cites the story of one of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s university classmates. On seeing a fuzzy photograph of the suspect, she jokingly said to her friend: "Could it be our Dzhokhar?" And in a few seconds she was seized with horror, when she saw the familiar face on the TV screen.
In fact, it was not Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friend who made a mistake. Almost all American media, American foreign policy establishment and security services have been grossly misled – and for many years. For many years, they were creating an icon of the Chechen separatist movement. The scheme was the same as that with the current image of the Syrian militants. The mainstream vision was that there were some Islamist "renegades", but the mass of the insurgents consisted of basically nice people: staunch nationalist democrats, intending to fight with the authoritarian government to the end. And as for the fact that they do not shave, use bombs and take hostages - this was presented as something understandable. After all, they did not kill Americans or their Europeans allies from the EU countries. They killed citizens of other countries, who were (their fault!) mostly loyal to their "regimes": Russians, Syrians etc. There were Christians and moderate Muslims among the victims, but the media did not care much about their religion. They were allegedly killed for the sake of freedom and future elections – quite understandable. The American media for many years were feeding the Americans (and not only them) this image of Islamist rebellions. And the majority of ordinary people were willingly "eating” it.
And then there came the shock. The Americans were killed in Boston, and the country was horrified. Here is an illustrative question posed to a correspondent of one of Russian newspapers in Boston: "If they are at war with you, why did they decide to blow up the bomb here?"
You are mistaken, my dear sir. These gentlemen are at war both with us and with you. "The problem is that for many terrorists who used to fight in Chechnya, both the United States and Russia are parts of one and the same 'declining' Western civilization," says the author of the book about the North Caucasus, Washington resident Yoav Carney. In order to understand this, Carney, in his time, had to make several trips to Chechnya during the "first Chechen war" and after it.
"I just call upon this tragedy to bring us closer to each other while coping with common threats, one of the most important and dangerous of which is terrorism. If we really combine efforts, we will not allow such blows and suffer such losses," Vladimir Putin said during today's "conversation with the country".
In the United States they sort of agree with such a formulation of the question, but there is no certainty that this consent will last for a long time. After all, to agree means to reshape some very important parts of American foreign policy. Is it a surprise that the FBI did not check the FSB’s warning about the person of Tamerlane Tsarnaev? Is it a surprise that for several years now the United States has ignored Russia’s demands to extradite Ichkeria's "foreign minister" Ilyas Akhmadov, who has received refugee status in America? Is it a surprise that instead of a strict verification (terrorism was mentioned in the Russian request) Akhmadov receives from his American masters the opportunity to print his book (with a foreword by Zbigniew Brzezinski) and present it at a press conference in a five-star hotel? Since the request for Akhmadov’s extradition caused a storm of indignation in the American media, it is easy to imagine what a scandal will arise if the FBI arrested Tamerlane Tsarnaev (of course, after he had committed the act of terrorism).