Vladimir Bukovsky has been giving some very interesting Russian-language interviews lately.
Earlier this month, he spoke with Kiev-based112 Ukraine TV. Below is an excerpt from the English translation by Alissa Ordabai that should get some attention.
Dmitry Gordon: You recently said, "If two ballistic missiles were launched at Lubyanka, the level of terrorism worldwide would drop by 80 percent." What did you mean by that?
Vladimir Bukovsky: The thing is that a huge part of the world's so-called terrorism is being organized by Lubyanka (the popular name for the headquarters of the FSB on Lubyanka Square in Moscow - translator). They control Islamic terrorism, ever since the war in Afghanistan when they were supporting the most extremist parts of the Afghan resistance, people like Gulbuddin. You wouldn't remember these names.
If I am not mistaken, Bukovsky is talking about the Soviet war in Afghanistan in which the Red Army was fighting on behalf of it its client-government against "the Afghan resistance," whom, as Bukovsky explains it, Moscow was also simultaneously supporting as part of an overall strategy. Classic communist "scissors strategy." Playing both or more sides against each other may be common pratice for the Kremlin, but this "scissors strategy" remains endlessly baffling as a concept for Anglo-Saxon cultures. Bukovsky highlighting it in action in Afghanistan is quite significant.
Dmitry Gordon: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar?
Vladimir Bukovsky: Yes, Hekmatyar. They used to intimidate the moderate parts of the Afghan resistance through Islamic extremists. And this is how their ties were formed. These connections began to quickly spread across the Middle East, including Palestine, and their influence shifted from the Palestine Liberation Organization to Hamas, and so on. They understood that Islamic extremism was very advantageous to them. And they spent a long time infiltrating them with their agent network and worked on securing their grip over it. So, if one were to remove Lubyanka's control, the level will drop significantly. I said by 80 percent, which you are quoting correctly. Eighty is an estimation.
By the way, the late Alexander Litvinenko and I used to sit and speculate, and the idea to unintentionally launch two ballistic missiles, as in, "Oops, they're off, ouch!" occurred to us then. This would mean the immediate drop in the levels of international terrorism, a great drop. For example, all the events connected with Syria, think of it. All these endless terrorist attacks in France, in Paris. All of it was controlled by Lubyanka. It is clear to us.
This is a stunning claim about the current Russian government made by one of his most astute and experienced critics. But what is "clear" to Bukovsky and Litvinenko, however, is not clear to most people. Nevertheless, surely it makes even Anglo-Saxon sense that decades of KGB support for carefully cultivated, trained and equipped networks and agents -- those we used to call "Arab" and now know as "Islamic" (think PLO, Arafat) -- wouldn't simply come to an end because the Kremlin's dark arts and black operations organization, the KGB, changes its initials to FSB.
Meanwhile, KGB/FSB-defector Litvinenko's 2005 claim that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was trained by the FSB in Dagestan and dropped into Afghanistan to penetrate AQ has been out there for years; in 2014, the Telegraph published a report on a tape apparently recorded by Litvinenko in the year before he was assassinated by polonium poisoning (believed to be ordered by Putin) where he further claims that the Russian leader had a “good relationship” with Semion Mogilevich, whom the Telegraph describes as "a Ukrainian crime boss who was on the FBI's most wanted list and whom Mr Litvinenko believed was selling weapons to al-Qaeda." To attempt to analyze today's terror networks without this awareness is foolhardy, at the very least.
But it reflects the rigid framework of "dichotomies" that most people still use to approach conflict, struggle and even competition more generally. Bukovsky makes reference to this in an earlier interview with Chicago-based NVC Radio, also translated by Alissa Ordabai.
Leon Weinstein: Tell me this. So the cold war finished, the Soviet Union collapsed. But was it really all over? Because today I have an impression that we have moved past the cold war phase and we are now entering something else. And who won from the collapse of the USSR?
Vladimir Bukovsky: These are exactly the questions I am asking in Judgment in Moscow, which was written 25 years ago (and will appear in English for the first time later this year - DW). Is the cold war over? And if so, who won? Show me. Explain it to me. Because I don’t understand. I don’t see it being over. I don’t think it is over. It is not over for as long as we are failing to put communism on trial in Moscow. And this is the message of the book Judgment in Moscow.
Leon Weinstein: In the liberal “progressive” — as they like to call themselves — circles of the United States and Europe, there is an established opinion that Moscow supports the right wing. Or “fascists”, as they call them, which means nationalists and the like. But I nevertheless have a feeling that they are left-wing-oriented. What do you think of this?
Vladimir Bukovsky: Well, yes. This is an old game invented by the Communist International (Comintern), a so-called dichotomy. They invented this game in the 1930s and it goes like this: If you are for Stalin, then you are against Hitler; and if you are for Hitler, then you are against Stalin. And they used this game to brainwash the world’s population until very recently. And even now not everyone understands that this is a game, you see? And the game continues: Either you are for the “sodomites”, or you are for Putin. And if you are against Putin, then you are for the “sodomites”. [Laughs]. And so forth. This is a marvelous dichotomy where one can’t lose. And as for anything beyond that, “tertium non datur” (“no third possibility is given”), as ancient Romans used to say. A third option does not fit into people’s brains.