ISIS hand in Chechnya attack?

Gunmen attacked a police checkpoint and stormed a media building in Grozny, capital of Russia's southern republic of Chechnya, Dec. 3. At least 20 were killed in the attacks and ensuing clashes—10 militants and 10 police. Authorities said no militants escaped. Chechnya's worst fighting in months erupted a few hours before President Vladimir Putin said in a speech in Moscow he would defend Russia against what he called attempts to dismember it, accusing the West of seeking a "Yugoslav scenario," and a "policy of containment" that it has pursued "for decades if not centuries." The Chechen insurgent underground, calling itself the Caucasus Emirate, took credit for the attack in a statement on its website, Kavkaz Center, improbably claiming over 80 "puppet soliders" were killed. The statement said the assault was revenge for "oppression of Muslim women." Media accounts interpreted this as a reference to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov prohibiting local women from wearing the hijab—an accusation he has denied. The Kavkaz Center statement also refered to Grozny as "Jokhar," part of the alternative nomenclature the "Emirate" has for the Russian territory it claims. The Russian policy establishment is already hypothesizing an ISIS hand in the attack. "I suspect ties to the Islamic State, even if they have not commented on it so far," said Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center. (Reuters, BBC News, Moscow News, RFE/RL, ITAR-TASS, Dec. 4)

What the hell is Putin talking about?

That's what everyone wants to know. His ultra-nationalist state-of-the-nation speech emphasized a Russian claim to Crimea, saying the peninsula is for Russians what Jerusalem's Temple Mount is for Muslims and Jews. He backed this up with some real historical arcana: "For our country, for our people, this event has a special meaning, because our people live in Crimea and the territory itself is strategically important. It was here in Crimea in ancient Khersones, or Korsun as the chroniclers called it, that Count Vladimir was baptized, to then baptize the rest of Rus."

OK, this is going back to the 10th century, even out-doing the Serb nationalists with their fixation on the 14th-century Battle of Kosova, although not quite meeting the Zionist standard of obsession with a short-lived kingdom that came to an end 3,000 years ago. But Russian historian Andrei Zubov, speaking to Bloomberg, notes: "Prince Vladimir was Kievan, not Muscovite, and this probably only underlines the right of Kiev and not Moscow to Crimea." Way to shoot yourself in the foot, Putin!

Zubov lost his post at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in March, after he compared Putin's takeover of Crimea to Hitler's annexation of Austria in 1938. This may offend Godwin's Law, so we will content ourselves with pointing out the irony that Putin is emulating the Zionists and jihadists in treating centuries-old events as a cosmic real estate deed, and elevating Russian nationalism to a state religion...

Putin emulates Zionists... again

Amnesty International on Dec. 9 protested that Russian authoriites in Chechnya burned down at least five houses believed to belong to the relatives of 11 men blamed in the Grozny attack, blasting the practice as “collective punishment” against the families. This is, of course, a tactic pioneered by Israel, although bulldozers are generally the preferred method there...