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The “Conspiracy in Nice” Story Proved to be Fake

According to the recent article, published by the separatist Chechenpress web site, Shamil Basaev could not be seen at Adnan Khashoggi's villa near Nice, France on July 3 1999 nor any time near that date, because on that day he was observed by thousands of people in Grozny, Chechnya, several thousand miles away from Cote d'Azur.

While Salam Talkhigov's article “Did Shamil Basaev Meet with Voloshin?” published by Chechenpress.net on April 28, 2006, is based largely on research by burtsev.ru, 1  it contains new information of critical importance for our understanding of recent Russian history. Talkhidov argues that Basaev could not be in Nice on the date he was alleged to have met with Voloshin, nor any time close to that date, because on July 3, 1999 Basaev was observed by thousands of people during the televized public event "Mekhkan Gulam" - the "Congress of the Country" in the Dynamo stadium in Grozny.  Talkhigov writes:

Basaev was not and could not be in Nice on July 3, 1999.  Nor could he be there before that date because of the intensive preparations for "Mekhkan gulam" [the Forum of the Chechen combatans of the 1994 war] during which  Shamil Basaev was seen by dozens and hundreds of people who visited him and whom he visited.  And afrewards, after July 3, he could not be in Nice because he was involved in public activities in the Chechen capital and in the regions, carrying out the agreements reached [at the Forum].

The Forum of the Combatants was extremely important event for the internal dynamics in Chechnya which since 1997 had been defined by conflicts and even armed clashes between Maskhadov's loyalists and the "field commanders," led by Basaev, Gelaev, and Raduev.  The Forum resulted in the formation of  the State Defense Council which turned Maskhadov in a largely decorative figure. 

We find a confirmation of this report by Talkhidov in the Russian press of 1999.

On July 15, 1999  Ilia Maksakov wrote in Nezavisimaia gazeta: "According to official information, the State Defense Council was formed by Maskhadov's decree during the Forum of the Combatants that took place last week in Grozny where, incidentally, the President was together with Basaev."  In the same article Maksakov reports a story "still to be confirmed that NOT LONG BEFORE the described events Shamil Basaev, Ruslan Gelaev and Khattab disarmed Aslan Maskhadov's personal guard without a single shot, entered his residence and presented the Chechen President with a simple choice: either he obeys completely the will of the field commanders, or the question of power in Chechny will be resolved by Maskhadov's physical liquidation." 2 

The Western researcher Julie Wilhelmsen also writes about these events.  She refers to Maksakov's article, mentions the Forum and continues: "According to Nezavisimaia gazeta, Maskhadov had been threatened at gunpoint by Basaev and Khattab ONLY DAYS BEFORE: act as they wanted or be killed." 3 

The new information from Chechenpress and the internal contradictions of the accounts of the alleged conspiracy at Khashoggi's villa, which the investigative group burtsev.ru analized at lenth in our article “Bad Actors in IPROG. Part I: The Devils Dozen,” raise now a number of important questions: Who was behind this fake story? Why was it never properly investigated? 4 Why did the scholarly and journalistic community in the West so eagerly accepted and disseminated the story, without applying to it the minimal rules of verification, required by their professional codes?

In his recent essay “The Global Drug Meta-Group: Drugs, Managed Violence, and the Russian 9/11,” Professor Peter Dale Scott likens the “conspiracy in Nice” to the hypothetical conspiracy to bomb the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. However, it is hard not to notice one striking difference in the reception of these hypotheses by Western media and experts. While the story of “Russian 9-11” received no critical assessment and no proper investigation whatsoever but became a staple “story about Russia,” the conspiracy theorists of the American 19-11 have been virtually silenced by the mainstream press and stirred no or very little interest from the academic community and think tanks except in the way of refuting it.


Now let us imagine that a week after 9-11 a certain US tabloid publishes a story about the chief of staff of the Bush Administration meeting with Osama bin Laden a month prior to that in Hashoggi's villa in order to conspire to bomb the American people.  The tabloid specifies that this information was received from Russian and Chinese intelligence sources.  What standards of fallibility would be applied to this publication by the US and Western press and the academic community?  The same standards that Patrick Cockburn applied to Kagarlitsky's piece?  Is it conceivable that such a story would be proliferated for years by the American left and right alike and that Dunlops of this world publish "scholarly" articles based on this story? 

To list just a few outrageous “failures” to investigate the story about the “Russian 9-11.”

No one who sold this story to the public has checked its timetable with that of Basaev's and Voloshin's public appearances.  No one found the articles in Latin American press with allegations that Alfonso Davidovich laundried money for FARC and Zapatistas.  Why, say, Patrick Cockburn with the powerful news organization behind him, did not go to Nice and arrange for an interview with Mr. Yakov Kosman just to make sure that Kagarlitsky did not misspell his last name?  Or take the private British yacht "Magiya" that supposedly arrived to the port of Beaulieu from Malta on July 3, 1999.  Why the meticulous Dunlop with his 149 footnotes has failed to add the 150th by informing us who was the owner of this yacht?  Don't the Brits keep their yachts registered and listed?

It is abundantly clear that these failure were not the result of shabby scholarship, journalistic inaptitude and the mysterious workings of the Western psyche.  They are political ideology, conformism and crass material interests. The conspiracy in Nice has been proven to be a fake. Instead, there was a conspiracy to create and plant this fake in public consciousness.

Note from the editor: See the related publication with the new information about the history of Kagarlitsky's article from its protagonist, Anton Surikov.


1  Talkhidov duly provides a reference to our research essay “The Devil's Dozen” (in Russian), published by left.ru in the summer of 2005 at <http://www.left.ru/2005/10/burtsev127.html>

2  Ilia Maksakov "Tikhii gosudarstvennyi perevorot v Chechne?" NG, 15 July 1999  <http://www.uni-potsdam.de/u/slavistik/zarchiv/0799wc/n127hs.htm>

3  "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Islamisation of the Chechen Separatist Movement."  Europe-Asia Studies. Vol. 57, No. 1, January 2005, 35-59.

4  On January 21 2004, Olivier Dupuis, Member of the European Parliament, Radical, filed the following official inquiry “Can the Council deny that in July 1999 a meeting took place in southern France, in other words in the territory of the European Union, between Voloshin, at that time chief of the Russian presidential administration, Basaev and Surikov?”To the best of our knowledge, Mr. Dupuis received no answer.

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