The Reichstag fire in Germany was the beginning of a plan to seize political power, and the beginning of Nazi fascism. Apparently, Putin learned a lesson from this episode in history. The articles below examine whether Putin executed his own Reichstag fire with staged bombings.
Back to the future… Russia, a totalitarian regime picking off its dissidents one by one
But there is considerable evidence these bombs were not planted by Chechens at all. On the day of the apartment explosions, in a town called Ryazan 100 miles south of Moscow, a local engineer spotted another huge bomb, and three suspicious men nearby. They were quickly arrested by the police and revealed to be FSB agents. They claimed that, while the country was under attack, they were planting real bombs in yet another apartment block as part of a “training exercise”. A slew of highly respected journalists, from my colleague Patrick Cockburn to Channel Four’s Despatches team, have suggested that the bombings were Putin’s Reichstag fire.
The Bear Is Back
All true. Yet this story has its dark side. Mr. Putin came to power following a mysterious chain of devastating bombings in Russia that were instantly blamed on Chechen “terrorists” and that sparked the second Chechen war. But there was a hitch: One of the bombs was discovered before it could blow to pieces an apartment building in the provincial city of Ryazan, and it turned out that it had been planted by agents of Mr. Putin’s own Federal Security Service. The FSB later claimed that the whole thing had been an “exercise” and that the bomb consisted of sacks of sugar. But to anyone who probes the sequence of events in Ryazan it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Mr. Putin came to power by setting his own version of the Reichstag fire.
Moscow bombers jailed as doubts rise
Two men were sentenced to life in prison yesterday for bombing Russian apartment blocks in a terrorist campaign that Kremlin critics claim was mounted by the KGB’s successors to justify invading Chechnya.
Yusuf Krymshamkhalov and Adam Dekkushev, both from Russian areas close to Chechnya, were convicted of taking part in the blowing up of blocks of flats in Moscow and Volgodonsk in 1999 that left 246 people dead.
The case is one of the murkiest in post-Communist Russia and politically explosive as Vladimir Putin was head of both the FSB – the renamed KGB – and the influential Security Council at the time.
The Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was a pivotal event in the establishment of Nazi Germany. At 21:15 on the night of February 27, 1933, a Berlin fire station received an alarm call that the Reichstag building, the assembly location of the German Parliament, was ablaze. The fire started in the Session Chamber, and by the time the police and firemen arrived, the main Chamber of Deputies was in flames. Inside the building, the police quickly found a shirtless Marinus van der Lubbe. Van der Lubbe was a Dutch insurrectionist council communist and unemployed bricklayer who had recently arrived in Germany, ostensibly to carry out his political activities. The fire was used as evidence that the Communists were beginning a plot against the German government. Van der Lubbe and four Communist leaders were arrested. Then-chancellor Adolf Hitler urged President Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree in order to counter the “ruthless confrontation of the KPD”.
Meanwhile, investigation of the Reichstag Fire continued, with the Nazis eager to uncover Comintern complicity. In early March 1933, three men were arrested who were to play pivotal roles during the Leipzig Trial, known also as “Reichstag Fire Trial,” namely three Bulgarians: Georgi Dimitrov, Vasil Tanev and Blagoi Popov. The Bulgarians were known to the Prussian police as senior Comintern operatives, but the police had no idea how senior they were: Dimitrov was head of all Comintern operations in Western Europe.