Six bombs in Russian apartment houses in 1999 were blamed on Chechen terrorists. They engendered a national panic that helped justify Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Chechenya. The first five bombs caused 300 deaths; the sixth bomb, in the city of Ryazan, was detected in advance and defused by a bomb squad on September 22nd, 1999. It was the only incident in which the perpetrators were seen.

Who was behind the Ryazan Incident?


The FSB, the successor intelligence service to the KGB which Putin headed before becoming Acting President and then, after his military success in Chechenya, President of Russia.

Here is what happened on the night of September 22rd, 1999. At about 9 PM, a bus driver returning from work to his apartment on New Settler's Street in Ryazan, saw a white car backed up to the high-rise building in which he lived. He noticed that its license plate had been suspiciously taped over. Then, two men and a woman, who appeared to be coming from the basement of the building, got in. One man was looking at his watch then the trio drove off in a rush. The bus driver immediately called the police emergency number.

The local police arrived, went to the basement, and came rushing out shouting 'bomb'. A bomb-disposal team then defused and removed the alien device from the building. Concerned that there might be other bombs, the police proceeded to evacuate all the residents to a nearby cinema, where they spent the entire night and next morning.

In Moscow, on September 23rd, the FSB announced that a "terrorist action" in Ryazan had been narrowly averted, and the next day Acting President ordered the Russian Army to invade Chechenya and eliminate the terrorists' bases.

Meanwhile, in Ryazan, preliminary lab tests showed the presence of explosives in the device that were similar to the five other bombs blamed on Chechen terrorists, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Sergei Kabashov of the Ryazan police. Acting on the assumption that it was the work of Chechen terrorists, the police located the white car with the doctored plates which had been abandoned in a parking lot near the train station. While tracing its engine number for the identity of the car's chain of ownership, the police put the city's railroad stations under tight surveillance. Presumably, the trio, whom residents of the building had described, were trapped in Ryazan. At this point, a local operator intercepted a phone call. It was from an unidentified person in Ryazan to FSB headquarters in Moscow. The FSB official advised the apparently panicked team in Ryazan to "split up" to evade police surveillance at the train station.

And then in Moscow, just as the Ryazan police were closing in on the trio of suspects, Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the FSB in Moscow, announced that the incident in Ryazan had been nothing more than a "training exercise" staged by the FSB to test local vigilance. He explained the earlier FSB announcement that it was a "terrorist action" was erroneous, as was the police analysis revealing explosives in the bomb. The white car belonged to the FSB. The trio who planted the device were FSB agents. The device secreted in the apartment house basement contained, according to the FSB, harmless sugar.

So the FSB admitted it was behind the Ryazan incident. As it turned out, there were no more "training exercises"-- or, for that matter, bombs in apartment houses.

COLLATERAL QUESTION: Had there been earlier FSB "training exercises"?

COLLATERAL QUESTION: Did the NSA intercept any telephone calls over open lines on September 24,1999 between FSB headquarters in Moscow and Ryazan?

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