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DATE=10/8/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA AND ISLAM NUMBER=5-44461 BYLINE=ED WARNER DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (C-I-S) have begun a conference at Yalta to discuss ways to combat Islamic terrorism. As Russian troops drive into Chechnya, Moscow blames Islamic fundamentalists for the revolts there and in Central Asia. But as V-O-A's Ed Warner reports, one Western analyst has a different view of the increasing violence in the former republics of the Soviet Union. TEXT: Moscow is now blaming Islamic fundamentalism for just about every outbreak of violence in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Without any real evidence, it holds Chechen Islamists responsible for the recent spate of bombings in Russia. Help us fight this Islamist plague, it asks of other nations. Yet, when called upon to send arms to fight Islamic terrorists in Kyrgyzstan, Moscow's efforts have stalled. No weapons have reached Kyrgyz forces, which are too weak to cope with invading rebels who have seized hostages. Moscow says help is on the way, but by slow train with no clear arrival date. This is highly suspicious behaviour, says Vladimir Socor, a Munich-based senior analyst of the Jamestown Foundation who follows events in the former Soviet Union. Moscow says it faces a network of Islamic terrorists from Chechnya across all of Central Asia. Yet, it hesitates to help suppress a small group of terrorists in Kyrgyzstan. Mr. Socor says Moscow has other things in mind: // Socor act // I am convinced the reason for this is Moscow's attempt to maximize the sense of insecurity among Central Asian governments in order to drag them into Russia's latest regional project, which is rebuilding a regional security organization on the basis of the C-I-S collective security treaty. // End act // Mr. Socor says Moscow is more concerned about reasserting its authority in the Caucasus and Central Asia than it is about the Islamic threat. But blaming Islam seems to play well in the West: // Socor act // This deception is having a certain degree of success because we see lot of Western officials taking these Russian claims at face value, claims that Russia is directly and massively threatened by international terrorism and that the West must, to some extent, condone Russian atrocities against the civilian population because Russia's military allegedly is after international terrorism. // End act // Vladimir Socor says the Islamist scare is especially unconvincing since Russia has contributed to it. Shamil Basayev, the Chechen who provoked the war with Russia by invading Dagestan, was trained by Russian security forces. He was sent to fight in Abkhazia in its effort to secede from Georgia and was decorated for his services. Now, Mr. Socor says, he is biting the hand that fed him. (Signed) NEB/EW/ENE/rrm 08-Oct-1999 18:05 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 2205 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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