Jerry Fletcher on Vladimir Putin

“A good conspiracy is unprovable. I mean, if you can prove it, it means they screwed up somewhere along the line.”

So says Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) in Richard Donner’s 1997 Conspiracy Theory. The fact that this is a line from a movie has little to do with the truth of the statement. So, when I read news reports of the Russian subway bombings on Monday, I immediately thought conspiracy (like any good Westerner would). Jokes aside, read (or listen) to this report from NPR about how the magazine-publishing giant Conde Nast helped bury one of their own stories at the behest of the Russian government. The story, written by Scott Anderson, is about the infamous Russian apartment building bombings in 1999. Four Russian apartment blocks, in three cities, were rocked by massive explosions over a span of 10 days, killing almost 300 hundred Russian citizens. At the time, Vladimir Putin was Prime Minister. This one event was a catalyst for Putin’s takeover of the Russian presidency and the escalation of the Second Chechen War.

Problem is, there are so many holes in the official version of the bombings that it plays out like a John le Carre novel. These discrepancies are what prompted Anderson to fly to Russia and do the story in the first place. He came back stateside with a six-page zinger, his main source; Mikhail Trepashkin – a former colonel in the Russian FSB (roughly equivalent to the US Dept. of Homeland Security). Trepashkin blows the lid off of everything. Along with his testimony and others, Anderson paints a pretty clear picture of what happened.

Big deal…Russian subterfuge….yawn. Well maybe you’re right, but in case you want to read Anderson’s story for yourself, just do a Google search. It’s called None Dare Call it a Conspiracy – Vladimir Putin’s Dark Rise to Power. Find it? No, you didn’t. And in case you did, send me a link. You would’ve had to buy the September 2009 issue of GQ to read the story as it does not appear in print, online (?), or anywhere else (regrettably, I threw my issue out). The Russian government didn’t want it’s citizens reading Anderson’s piece, they successfully got it omitted from the Russian edition of GQ and it is not found on GQ.com, like every one of their other articles is. Conde Nast bowed to the Russian government’s demands and has since been mum about the incident.

Now, to bring it back to Monday’s events, the culprit is the same – Chechens. Granted, this is where it all falls apart because the alleged perpetrators were suicide bombers and it defies belief that the Russian government engineered such an ingenious plan. But, I think a healthy dose of paranoia and skepticism towards the government of any country is an asset and/or an entertaining hobby. If nothing else, regard this article as such. I do encourage you to read about the Russian apartment building bombings. It’s fascinating and fun to read things that some government would rather you not. All of that said, if this does turn out to be a conspiracy, I totally called it. After all, Jerry Fletcher’s words still ring true…

Update 01/04/2011:

Hat tip to Dave Bro over at Lightstalkers who found the article I said couldn’t be found. If the link dies email me and I’ll send you a PDF.

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About Daniel Fitzsimmons

Staff writer for the Manhattan weeklies Our Town, Our Town Downtown and the West Side Spirit.
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