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Let us recall that old classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” In one of the
final scenes, when Dorothy appears before the Wizard after liquidating
the Wicked Witch, her little dog Toto starts barking at something. The
dog is calling everyone’s attention to an old man with a microphone
hidden behind a curtain. The Great and Terrible Oz tells his visitors
to disregard “the man behind the curtain.” But Dorothy, the Scarecrow,
the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man realize that the great fiery image
with the thundering voice is a false front. The great wizard is merely
an old man with a microphone — a fraud.
If we meditate on the Land of Oz, we notice that it’s a bit like
Russia. But in Russia, instead of one wizard, we find many. Like the
Wizard of Oz, these wizards maintain a false front. In fact, they
maintain many false fronts. There are economic false fronts, religious
false fronts and political false fronts. In fact, there are even
military false fronts — like the one in Chechnya. But once in a while,
if we rely on our noses like Toto, we can sniff out the reality behind
the curtain. And we must not be diverted from what we find. When the
wizard of Russia tells us to disregard the men behind the curtain, we
must not listen. We must stand firm and act as Dorothy did.
Last week we got a little peek behind one of Russia’s curtains. We
saw a convocation of wizards — top MVD (interior ministry) officials —
warmly receiving Russia’s prime minister and acting president, Vladimir
Putin. It has been more than eight years since the supposed collapse of
the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, President Putin addressed these top
officials in the Soviet style. He addressed the assembled wizards as
“tovarischi.” In other words, he addressed them as “comrades.”
In Russia a Communist refers to a fellow Communist as “comrade.”
Therefore, a Bolshevik named Ivanov is always Comrade Ivanov, never Mr.
Ivanov. Following this same style, a Communist does not address a
convocation of Bolsheviks with the phrase “ladies and gentlemen.”
Instead he addresses them as his “comrades.” This is proper Leninist
Does this mean that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is a
Communist? Is democracy in Russia a sham edifice like the fiery and
thunderous Oz? Are there Communist wizards standing behind curtains,
pulling levers that belch smoke in the form of democratic slogans? Why
would Vladimir Putin suddenly start to use Communist language eight
years after the alleged repudiation of Communism?
A glimpse behind the curtain always reveals a different man — a
different sort of wizard — than the one we are taught to believe in.
“Disregard that man behind the curtain,” thunders the Great and
And now a London-based newspaper, “Al-Sharq al-Awsat,” has given us a
stunning report that reveals yet another wizard hiding behind a
curtain. Chechen Mufti Akhmed-Khadzhi Kadyrov has accused Sergei
Stepashin, Russia’s former prime minister, of secretly arming Moslem
rebels in Dagestan prior to the supposed “incursion” that triggered the
Kadyrov is no establishment figure. Chechen President Aslan
Maskhadov has named him “public enemy number one.” In this context, we
should wonder whether there is a curtain with a wizard standing behind
“If Russia really wanted to,” says Kadyrov about the appearance of
Arab terrorists in Chechnya, “not a single foreigner could have
infiltrated into Chechnya or extended a single dollar to it.”
As for the gangsterism and kidnappings that plagued Chechnya and
adjoining regions since Chechen independence, Mufti Kadyrov says it is
time to connect the dots. “Indeed,” admits Kadyrov, “armed gangs did
show up.” But who was behind these armed gangs? “Some people link this
thing to the special services in Russia.”
About the alleged Islamist incursion into Dagestan, the mufti holds
an opinion close to that of Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, governor of Russia’s
Krasnoyarsk territory. “This is not a jihad,” says Kadyrov, “it is
rather a deception.”
A better word might be “provocation,” an incitement to act in a way
that invites crushing repressive measures. We should not be naive about
the way things work in Russia. Has there been collusion between the
Kremlin and the Chechen rebels? “An agreement may have been reached
with Moscow in this regard,” says Kadyrov. “I openly said so during my
first meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the presence
of six north Caucasian muftis.”
Kadyrov confronted Prime Minister Putin. He said that Putin’s
predecessor, Sergei Stepashin, armed the rebels in Dagestan in order to
start the war.
And what did Prime Minister Putin say?
“He said we actually made mistakes,” claims the Chechen religious
These are the details provided by Kadyrov: Prime Minister Stepashin,
a former chief of the secret police and interior minister, sent trucks
filled with guns and ammunition to two villages in Dagestan. These were
the villages that fought against the Russian army in August. These were
the people who triggered a war that quickly spread to Chechnya. The
fighting in Dagestan lasted two or three weeks. “Fighting for this
period of time actually requires a great deal of arms,” says Kadyrov.
“(The rebels) were not stopped because some parties wanted to use this
thing as a pretext.”
Toto barks at the man behind the curtain. And there he is, Prime
Minister Stepashin, giving guns to rebels so they can start a war that
will justify mass mobilizations and war hysteria throughout Russia. As
soon as this was accomplished Stepashin stepped down as prime minister.
His mission was accomplished. Then Vladimir Putin appeared as the Great
and Terrible Oz of the Kremlin, the cartoon superhero of Russia’s
security services — a false front in human form. Behind his curtain a
thousand KGB and MVD wizards are pulling levers and pushing buttons.
Smoke and fire explode from Putin’s mouth. The Russian people are
thrilled by the spectacle of a Great and Terrible leader.
Meanwhile President Maskhadov of Chechnya, probably with a small KGB
wizard pulling at his levers, sent a government minister to see Mufti
Kadyrov. “We want you to announce a jihad,” said the minister.
“I told the minister that I did not agree to his request,” says
Kadyrov, who carefully avoided Maskhadov’s trap. “I also asked him to
announce his condemnation, even formally, of Basayev for going to
Basayev is the war lord who currently leads the Chechen fighters to
certain death and destruction. But it seems there is someone standing
behind Basayev — that he too has a curtain that hides a Russian
wizard. “Perhaps,” says Kadyrov, “he (Basayev) is a Satan or a devil.”
The mufti knows a thing or two about the leader of the so-called
“Chechen bandits.” Kadyrov was present when Basayev admitted that Boris
Berezovsky — the Kremlin-connected tycoon — gave Basayev a million
dollars prior to the hostilities in Dagestan.
And why did Berezovsky give Basayev a million dollars?
Behind Boris Berezovsky’s curtain stands the KGB and the Main
Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff, who erected this
tycoon as one would erect a scarecrow with which to frighten the Russian
people back to Communism.
Think about it. How do you become the richest man in a country where
the state previously owned everything? Who gave Boris Berezovksy his
millions? Who gave him those car dealerships, media outlets and banks?
Let us not be naive.
“Comrade Berezovksy,” says a shadowy KGB general, “we need you to be
our billionaire. We are willing to make you rich. But you must work
for us. You must follow our instructions. You must launder money
through Western banks. You must also send money to terrorists. Do not
worry. We will protect you, Comrade Berezovsky. You will be doing
And this scenario raises a further question:
Who gave the Kremlin to Boris Yeltsin? Surely, that was the biggest
give-away of them all. As anyone can see, the Wizard Yeltsin was the
embodiment of Marxist satire, of self-parody, of false Western democracy
and greedy capitalism — presented with a warm Russian heart and final
repentance in the end. Yeltsin was always funny, always ready with an
inside joke. He once went to the Akhtuba missile factory, which was
slated for defense conversion, and said to the workers, “Before, you
were producing missiles,
now you are making useful consumer products, like phallo-imitators.”
(You must pardon this, but the Western term for a phallo-imitator is
much too embarrassing, and its definition would unavoidably involve us
At Yeltsin’s phallo-imitator joke the boys at KGB headquarters howled
with laughter, tears of mirth streaming down their faces. We aren’t
making missiles any more! Look at what we are making instead!
Boris Yeltsin lasted for eight long years because he kept the
security services in stitches. They simply could not part with him, not
knowing what hilarious stunt or inside joke he would treat them to
next. And now they will miss him. He was the truest entertainer, and
the finest rendering of a politician whose main goal is to create a
consumer paradise — that is, a society involved in the mass production
of phallo-imitators instead of nuclear missiles. This was the Wizard
Yeltsin at his best.
“Disregard that man laughing behind the curtain!”
And in the land of Yeltsin, a land where nuclear missile factories
now make sex toys, the Russian Biographical Institute nonetheless names
Nikolai Guschchin as “man of the year.” Guschchin was the designer of
the “Iskander-E” missile complex, a new type of weapon. Before that he
had designed the “Tochka” and “Oka” missile complexes. So much for sex
Here is the reality behind the curtain, behind the phony politics and
the false fronts. This is what lies behind Yeltsin’s inside jokes.
Over the past eight years, if you listened very carefully to the
Kremlin’s press secretary, he would often stress that Boris Yeltsin
really is the president of Russia, that he really is a world leader and
a powerful figure who makes actual decisions. Never in history have the
publicists of a great nation continued to emphasize that their leader
really is a leader.
“Don’t pay attention to that man behind the curtain!”
An American traveler in Russia recently noted, with irritation, that
he found himself traveling on the No. 7 bus from Karl Marx Prospekt to
Leningradskaya Square. “When are they going to get around to changing
these Commie names?” he wondered.
“On the subject of nothing changing,” noted this same American
visitor to Russia, “I keep seeing the old uniforms around here. Around
Moscow and St. Petersburg the soldiers, sailors and airmen all have the
new uniforms with the Tsarist double-headed eagle at the peak of their
caps. Here, the garrison still wears the olive-colored woolens with the
hammer-and-sickle insignia, red shoulderboards, etc. The walls around
their barracks still have the bas-relief red stars on the concrete.”
We might as well ask, for that matter, when the Russians are going to
bury Lenin? (The old Marxist crumb is still lying in state, in a glass
case, perfectly preserved and viewable to the public.)
The KGB has not been buried either. It has only changed its name to
SVR and FSB. When the Soviet Union fell no one at the KGB under the
rank of three-star general was fired. As for the Communist Party, it
cleverly split into various liberal, nationalist and other parties, and
presently produces an amusing soap opera in the State Duma. The leaders
of the political opposition today are, for the most part, generals of
the security services — Yevgeny Primakov (former chief of the SVR) and
Sergei Stepashin (former chief of the FSB and MVD).
“Don’t pay attention to those men behind the curtain!”
Russia’s wizards work in secret. Theirs is the world’s largest, most
powerful clandestine grouping in history. This grouping includes the
SVR, the FSB, the GRU, the Russian Mafia, the MVD and the Communist
Party of the Russian Federation. And look at their latest stunt.
Previously the Western press had cheered the results of last month’s
Duma elections. The Communist Party allegedly suffered a defeat. The
“moderate” parties emerged with a clear majority. For the first time,
the moderates could unite together and rule Russia without the
Readers of this column will remember a much different
characterization of the election outcome. I said that the Unity Party
was the party of war and so was the Communist Party. In fact, each of
these parties represents the same interests. And sure enough, last week
Prime Minister Putin’s Unity Party, the so-called “Bear Faction,” united
with the Communists to divide up the top government posts. At the first
session of the new State Duma, nearly a hundred lawmakers walked out in
protest. Comrade Gennady Seleznyov — a Communist — is now the speaker
of Russia’s lower house of parliament.
The West stupidly imagined that, at long last, Russia would be able
to enact the necessary economic reforms that would transform it into a
real capitalist country. But that was never in the cards. Russia’s
wizards, standing behind a thousand curtains, pulling a thousand hidden
levers, are playing an altogether different game.
At this point in our story, Toto would be yapping his head off.
Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion would be
calling out the men behind the curtain. But here in the West our
scarecrows don’t have brains, our tin men have no hearts and our
cowardly lions have yet to find their courage.
A smooth little figure, Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyonov, steps
forward. He is now First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia. He makes a
little announcement. He credits the International Monetary Fund for
instilling budget discipline into the Russian government. This pleases
the IMF scarecrows to no end.
Then a little military figure steps forward. It is Defense Minister
Igor Sergeyev. He makes an announcement for the benefit of our cowardly
lions. He talks about Russia’s nuclear missiles, and about using them
if America should threaten Russia’s sovereignty.
Finally, the Russian agriculture ministry worries that Russia may be
short of meat this year. So the Kremlin makes a little announcement
into the tin ears of our tin men. Please send us 16 million pounds of
pork bellies. We can’t afford to pay for them, but you’d be doing a
good deed — at the expense of America’s taxpayers. (If they only had a
And that is how the game is played in the merry old Land of Oz.
Did somebody say that Communism is dead in Russia? One hears this
slogan again and again. “Communism is dead.” And how did it die? The
official story is quite simple: The Communists admitted defeat and gave
up power. No blood bath, no arrests or trials for the red gangsters.
There is no accounting whatsoever. There is no repentance. You make a
few meaningless decrees, you change the names on a few cities and you
parade your F-Troop around in rusty old tanks. This is the story of the
death of Communism. How is that for a fairy tale? Nobody ever stops to
ask the question: If the Marxists in America have not renounced their
creed, why should the Marxists in Russia renounce theirs?
According to John Lenczowski, former Director of European and Soviet
Affairs at the National Security Council, the central theme of Soviet
disinformation in the 1980s was that Communist ideology had died in
Russia. The objective of this disinformation theme, said Lenczewski,
was to convince us that the Kremlin no longer intended to force
Communism on the rest of the planet. “If we can begin to believe that
Soviet goals are limited,” Lenczowski explained, “then we may be more
inclined to view appeasement as a legitimate diplomatic tool in our
relations with the Soviet Union.”
But the alleged death of Communism in the Soviet Union was just the
beginning of a much larger and more ambitious deception. One lie paves
the way for another. If you swallow the first lie, you will swallow the
second one. “Before long,” wrote KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, “the
communist strategists might be persuaded that the balance had swung
irreversibly in their favor. In that event they might well decide on a
Sino-Soviet ‘reconciliation.’ The scissors strategy would give way to
the strategy of
‘one clenched fist.'”
And now this is happening. Russia and China are drawing together.
If we only had a brain we’d see that Golitsyn is a prophet. If we
had a heart we would never have abandoned so many countries to
murderers. And if we had courage, we would have built a missile defense
and bomb shelters instead of retreating into a culture of denial.
It seems we are hypnotized by a voice that says, “Disregard that man
behind the curtain.”