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From an interview with Mikhail Trepashkin
Written by   
, 03 2008
Mikhail Trepashkin: The reason for my prosecution, of course, was that Iwas representing the interests of victims of the apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk. Thetrial was to begin in late October of 2003, in Moscow municipal court, and Iwas supposed to represent the Morozova sisters. Afew days before the start of the trial, a gun was planted in my car. Onthese grounds Iwas taken into custody.

In hiding me behind bars, the FSB did everything possible to ensure that Icould not participate in the judicial process, if it could even be called that. Exactly why the Russian leadership fears the truth about the 1999apartment bombings now that's the$64,000 question! Itshould be noted and that the apartment bombings in Russian cities in 1999led to the outbreak of the second Chechen war, and this has been stated repeatedly by senior Russian officials, including Putin himself. Eventhough not a single Chechen was ever named as a defendant, and, according to the Russian prosecutor's office and the FSB, the case of the bombings is still ongoing. There are some Karachay suspects, but no Chechens.
Chechenpress: Mikhail, you have repeatedly stated that you have reasonable grounds to suspect that the bombings were organized by the Russian security services. Please tell us, what are your reasons to suspect the FSB of involvement in the blasts on Guryanov Street and the Kashirsk Highway?

Mikhail Trepashkin:
Iwould like to carry it a little further, a little deeper. Inthe late 1980s and early 1990s, Iparticipated in the investigation into a series of terrorist acts. Ieven received early promotion to lieutenant colonel in the justice department, for investigating the bombing of the Baku subway and planned explosions in southern Russia and so on. Thatis, Ihad investigated more than one criminal case, and had some experience. Sohere, when Ilooked at the characteristics, how it all happened, Irealized that the crime was solvable, and solvable under any circumstance. So, if it was not solved, the question immediately arises: who is interested in making sure it is not? Thisis my first point, purely by logic, due to my knowledge of the state security organs and their capabilities.

My second point is about the course of the investigation. Initially, while hot on the trail, they made a composite sketch to determine who had rented the room. Whenthere was evidence that the lease was issued to someone using a passport under the name of Laypanov, however, the identikit image was immediately altered to artificially resemble a photograph of this Laypanov. Officers, who were supposed to investigate objectively, did this. Later it became clear that Laypanov had died before the premises were rented, and that someone was using a forged passport in his name.

So they were now at an impasse: which composite sketch was the valid one? Theone made when they were hot on the trail, or the one that depicted the suspect after they found the forged passport? Later there was a third version: Gochiyaev was guilty of everything, specifically because his figure was imposing, and he was practically declared guilty, and so the identikit lost all relevance for the investigative organs. There was another situation where they could have located Gochiyaev and interrogated him, in order to clarify several points of interest in the investigation. Myliaison over at the FSB, through whom my information was sent in to that agency, declared that it would better to find Gochiyaev dead and hang it all on him, than to learn every detail and waste all that that time and so forth.

Ihave one more point that Iwould like to give you. In2000, the court was holding trials of persons who were accused of bombings back during the first Chechen war. There had been several bombings in Moscow where there were no casualties: there was the bus explosion at the VDNX (ed: Arts and Sciences Exhibition Center), then the subway and the attempt to bury an explosive device under the rail bed. Itwas proven very clearly that people closely associated with the FSB set the bombs, and it was proven that they were doing these terrorist attacks. Ifit could have happened back then, during the first Chechen war, this direct relationship to the FSB that was proven with witnesses in a court trial, then this is also a strong argument. Ifit happened back then, then why not now?

It was this lie that they piled up into layers during the investigation and during the trial, and as the trial of the Moscow and Volgodonsk bombing went on, Iwas convinced that the real culprits would never found. Asfar as the Dekushev and Krymshamhalov case, they were convicted of committing this crime, as Iunderstand it, they were convicted in order to mislead public opinion as to who really ordered and organized these terrorist acts.

While Iwas sitting in prison, Iheard, since information in prison spreads very rapidly, that Krymshamhalov and Dekushev had expressed words of resentment, that they had allegedly been promised a much more lenient penalty if they said that they knew what it was they were transporting, and what it was to be used for. Supposedly they gave testimony they knew they were carrying RDX. Inreality, however, they did not know and were simply deceived and ended up with long sentences, even though they did not know what they were transporting, and for what purpose. Neither Dekushev, nor Krymshamhalov were guilty, because their actions had no criminal intent, and any first-year law school student understands this.

It was no accident that the authorities directly led the investigation. First of all, the investigators did not collect evidence about the crime, but destroyed it. Inaddition, during hearings by the public commission investigating the bombings, under parliament member Sergei Yushenkov, who has already been murdered, a commission that Iwas also a member of, it was disclosed that Gochiyaev gave testimony implicating the FSB in the apartment bombings, which was never denied in the official investigation. Since 1993, there has been a pretty good law in Russia, called the Official Secrets Act. Itexpressly prohibits classifying any case where there is a massive loss of life, or human rights violations. Itis strictly forbidden to make such cases secret. Butwe have made these cases secret. Why? Thissays a lot.

If you remember, back in 1999, immediately after the FSB officers were detained in the city of Ryazan after the failed bombing an apartment building, one journalist asked Putin a question about the possible involvement of the FSB in these crimes. Putin answered that the very idea, that the security services could kill its own citizens, was blasphemous. Sothe main argument of the FSB's defenders is that the FSB cannot under any circumstances kill its own citizens. Thatis why Igave you all these examples of when persons connected to the FSB were convicted of terrorism in 2000: they prove that the Russian security services are not only capable of extra judicial executions and murders of their own citizens, but also of actively applying these methods to achieve political goals.

Mikhail, if Iunderstood you correctly, you claim that the FSB, in order to achieve their goals, has always engaged in terrorism. Arethe apartment bombings merely isolated incidents from the practice?

Mikhail Trepashkin:
That is correct. Terrorism and murder in Russia has become a massive outrage with the destruction of people by bombings, performed either by the FSB officers, or agents acting under their control. There is the well-known case of the attempt to blow up a criminal gang leader in Podolsk, Lalakin, who was nicknamed

'Onion'. Itwas done this way: the command was given for an agent working for the FSB to place a bomb in order to blow him up, but 'Onion' never showed up. Henever left his apartment. Sothey decided to have their agent remove the bomb, the same agent who had placed it. While removing the bomb, however, the FSB's agent blew himself up in the stairwell of the building where 'Onion' was living. According to my information, this agent-felon was posthumously awarded the Medal of Courage.

In vain we forget the case of the attempted assassination of Berezovsky. Thefact is, there are officers in a super-secret FSB unit. Specifically Irefer to a department established to remove politicians, businessmen, and criminal authorities, using any means, including bombings. Thisclearly answers the question of whether or not officers can blow up a bus or an apartment building. Andso, if they can kill one or two people with a bomb, then why not blow up a building, a subway, or a trolley? There is a lot of concrete evidence of this. Forsome reason, however, the case was hushed up. Butthis is futile, because if it were to be objectively investigated, if a commission of Parliament and the Russian public back in 1998had taken the matter under control and seen it through to the end, then it is possible that the bombings never would have happened, and the war in Chechnya would never have happened as well. Bythe way, in the criminal case concerning the attempt on Berezovsky, there were persons from the FSB staff, the same ones who at one time organized and carried out the murder of the first President of the CRI (ed: Chechen Republic of Ichkeria), Jokhar Dudayev.

Mikhail, what do you intend to do next? After your release, do you intend to resume cooperation with the commission of inquiry into the apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk?

Mikhail Trepashkin:
As a result of my arrest, Iwas unable to fulfill my obligations to the victims of the bombings. So, accordingly, as a lawyer Imust continue this work. Thefact is, after my arrest Elena Alexandrovna Morozova was granted political asylum in the U.S., since it was impossible to assert her rights through legal means. There was a risk to life, a risk in performing normal legal work, and a risk on insisting on her rights. Ifyou assert your rights in Russia, then it turns out that you are a bad person, a criminal, and your only place, according to Patrushev and his company, is in the 'zone' (ed: the prison system).

While in custody, Ianalyzed this as an example of specific criminal cases, because, as a lawyer, Ilooked at my cellmates' cases, and it is clear that there has been a change for the worse in our democracy. Inwords everything still sounds so very calm. Putin speaks and says that everything is correct, it is all right, while in fact it is quite the opposite. Wehave gone very far astray from the democratic gains we made in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wehave gone quite in the opposite direction. Inthis regards Iwish to continue my work, to engage in advocacy. Iam going to do human rights work, since being in prison Ihave found out how much lawlessness there is.

And here, especially for Chechenpress, Ideem it necessary to state the following: while in prison Ilearned that, with respect to the Chechens and the Ingush, in the Russian penal system there is an order that all convicts of Chechen and Ingush nationality serve their sentences in concentration camps in the territory of the Urals and Siberia, where conditions of detention, as well as the climate, are much harsher than in Russia as a whole. Allthis is in direct violation of UN resolutions, which state that a person, convicted of a crime, should serve his sentence close to his place of residence. Andthat is not all: after the arrival of Chechens and Ingush in the camps, they are kept in isolation cells and for months they are not released into the general prison population. Inthe isolation cells they are tortured and required to renounce their beliefs, their religion and nationality, and only afterwards are they released into the 'zone'. Inthe language of international law this is called genocide, and the Russian government perpetrates it against people of Chechen and Ingush nationality.

Mikhail, you live in Russia, a country where the FSB is rampant, a country where there is no democracy and human rights are violated. Youspeak the truth about the crimes of Putin's regime, about terrible and bloody crimes. Tellus, are you not afraid that your persecution will continue? Areyou not afraid that you might be killed by the Russian security services, just as they killed Yushenkov and Shchekochikhin, members of parliament who were doing pretty much the same things you are doing?

Mikhail Trepashkin:
Regarding whether or not Iam afraid Firstly, Iam afraid that my children will live in this country, in a country where basic human rights are not observed, which you yourself stated while asking me this question. Ibelieve that anywhere that people have no rights, there is no freedom. Where there is no freedom, there is no future for the state or its citizens. WhatI do, Ido so that in Russia something will change for the better. Whatelse am Iafraid of? Thatmy children will eventually have to look into the eyes of representatives of your people and answer for all that Putin and his henchmen are doing today in your land, and with your people. Ido not want my children to be ashamed because their father sat in silence at a time while his government was destroying an entire nation, a father who lived a well-fed life, and filled his pockets with money.

Iam against violence, including the war in Chechnya, and Ido so openly. AndI will do it not matter what the cost. Justa few hours ago Igave a big press conference for the Russian and foreign media, and once again the question was raised about crimes committed by senior Russian officials, and about how Russia under Putin has been transformed into a fascist state. TheFSB reaction was immediate. Literally one hour ago, despite the late hour, two FSB officers came to my home and brought me a summons to appear in Nizhny Tagil on September 16th, where they plan to once again send me to the 'zone', despite the fact that a court decision on my release has entered into force. Thisis the answer to the second part of your question. Ihave no doubt that, if the FSB once again hides me behind bars, Iwill just be killed in some prison cell, just as FSB officers have openly and repeatedly threatened to do if Ido not shut up and cease to investigate the apartment bombings and the reasons for the seizure of hostages at 'Nord-Ost'.

Mikhail, thank you for the informative and interesting interview. Wewish as much as possible that you remain free! Andwe wish you success in your difficult and dangerous business!

Mikhail Trepashkin:
Thank you.

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Comments (2)
1. ..
Written by , on 25-09-200916:04
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2. Written by website, on 28-09-200913:35
, ࠗ [URL=http://trepashkin.info/index.html]" "[/URL]. e-mail, treadv@gmail.com.

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