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The Moscow Massacre: Terrorism The Major Winner, Humanity The Big
Loser November 03, 2002
By Lynette Dumble
Known only by name to the Russian hierarchy, the gas spewed into
Moscow's theatre on Ulitsa Melnikova killed 50-odd Chechens and
accounts for 116 of the 118 hostage deaths. Another 600-odd hostages
remain hospitalized, 45 critically ill, yet the chorus from President
Bush and his anti-terrorism alliance is one congratulating Vladimir
Putin for an "impressive success".
The facts emerging beg the question of what any sincere
anti-terrorism pundit might find either impressive or successful
about Moscow's massacre. First and foremost, the manoeuvre lacked a
rescue strategy for the gassed hostages. Despite a sixty hour alert,
there was an overwhelming shortage of ambulances to rush the
stressed, hungry, dehydrated hostages to medical facilities.
Instead, more than 200, many unconscious, were placed on buses with
scant to zero precautions to prevent their choking to death on their
own vomit. Moscow's city's chief doctor Andrei Seltsovsky claimed
that 1,000 beds had been reserved at Moscow clinics, but amongst
those who made it to hospitals alive, a significant number were
accommodated on the floor without even a pillow for comfort. Others
were accorded beds only when already hospitalized patients were
forced to give theirs up.
Not unexpectedly, the world pays little or no attention to the fate
of the Chechan rebels following Saturday's "security" operation. For
the record, all but a handful, but including all who were women, were
shot dead from point blank range as they lay gassed into
unconsciousness. Whither the Geneva Convention, or does this no
longer apply to forces outside of Bush Jnr's coalition against terror?
Equally, as we stand on the brink of World War III, supposedly over
who may and who may not possess weapons of mass destruction, who in
their right mind would be impressed by the Russian President's
refusal to disclose the name of the gas? US wisdom has since claimed
that the deadly vapour was an opiate or morphine-like substance.
Earlier suggestions hinted that the Moscow gas was developed by the
US for use in Vietnam, or was another developed by the Soviets and
used in the late 70s and 80s in Afghanistan, or was that called BZ,
developed by the US Department of Defense in the late 1960s.
BZ is a "glycolate" which paralyses the central nervous system, but
is considered non-lethal if applied correctly! Left in the dark about
the precise identity of the gas, Moscow's doctors attempting to
resuscitate the gassed hostages had no alternative to an antidote to
BZ-like substances supplied by the Russian military.
Equally worrying is the suggestion that Putin authorized the use of a
modified, and much more potent, form of BZ which his military
countrymen perfected in the late 1980s.
According to Dr Malcolm Dando, professor of international security at
Bradford University's school of peace studies, and an advisor to the
UN, BZ and other similar agents are of increasing interest to both
the American and Russian military as they develop "non-lethal"
weapons. Dando also revealed that "because of a loophole these nerve
agents are not covered by the international chemical weapons
convention. ... The US has said they have the right to use them".
Within the space of twenty four hours, Putin plunged Russia back into
the Cold War mentality of utmost secrecy. Physicians were forbidden
to speak with the press, and the crackdown on the Moscow media aped
what has happened in Chechnya over the past three years.
With the flow of information into the public domain stemmed, an
appalling massacre was passed off as victory. In the meantime,
Russia's human rights violations in Chechnya, including the rape and
sexual assault of women, proceed with sparse criticism in the global
Terrorists worldwide bask in the glory of both Putin's heavy-handed
blunders, and revelations that the US and Russia continue their
privileged pursuit of chemical weapons. On this background, and
faced with US and Russian double standards in the wings for Iraq,
Bush Jnr's war against terrorism is doomed to fail. The arms traders,
overwhelmingly dominated by the US, may perceive themselves as
financial winners, but their profits come at an unacceptable price to
Dr. Lynette J. Dumble, medical and environmental scientist and
international co-ordinator of the Global Sisterhood Network, is a
former professor of surgery at the University of Texas in Houston,
and senior research fellow in history and philosophy of science at
the University of Melbourne.
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