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Fsb behind 1999 bombings { January 13 2004 }

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2 Sentenced to Life In Russian Bombings
'99 Blasts Ignited Latest Chechen War

By Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press
Tuesday, January 13, 2004; Page A13

MOSCOW, Jan. 12 -- A Moscow court on Monday sentenced two men to life in prison for their involvement in a series of apartment-house bombings that triggered the latest war in Chechnya, a verdict that the Kremlin's critics denounced as a "show."

Yusuf Krymshamkhalov and Adam Dekkushev were convicted on charges of terrorism, murder, illegal possession of and trafficking in explosives, and other crimes in relation to the 1999 bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk. The bombings killed 246 people.

Prosecutors said that the pair made explosives, packed them in sugar sacks and drove them to Moscow and the southern city of Volgodonsk on orders of Chechen rebels. According to the charges, the two residents of the southern region of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, which is west of Chechnya, drove a truckload of explosives right to the wall of the apartment building in Volgodonsk.

Their two-month trial was closed to the public, but reporters were allowed to hear the final verdict Monday. The authorities have said that another six suspects were killed during the fighting in Chechnya, and two suspects remain at large.

Moscow City Court Judge Marina Komarova handed down life sentences in a maximum security prison to each convict and ordered them to pay about $156,000 in compensation to the victims.

The pair said they would appeal. Krymshamkhalov told reporters in the courtroom that the conviction was based on "lies," but he wouldn't elaborate.

After the verdict, a group of victims' relatives released an open letter raising questions about the bombings that they said the trial left unanswered.

Russian officials said Chechen rebels were responsible for the blasts, though rebel leaders denied involvement. Some critics have suggested that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), the domestic successor to the Soviet-era KGB, had engineered the attacks to justify the military campaign.

Last month, Russian authorities seized thousands of copies of a book that accuses the FSB of staging the explosions. One of the he book's co-authors, Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB agent who has received political asylum in Britain, based his allegations on an incident in Ryazan city in September 1999. Police there discovered what they took to be explosives in an apartment building basement and ordered an evacuation. The FSB said that the alleged explosives were sacks of sugar planted as an anti-terrorism drill, but Litvinenko and other critics insisted the explosives were real and used in a pattern that resembled the explosions in Moscow and Volgodonsk.

Litvinenko is associated with Boris Berezovsky, a Russian tycoon and one-time Kremlin insider, who made similar allegations from his self-imposed exile in Britain. In an interview with Russia's Echo Moskvy radio, Berezovsky called Monday's verdict a "show" and reaffirmed his claim that the FSB was behind the bombings.

2004 The Washington Post Company

Fsb behind 1999 bombings { January 13 2004 }
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