Russia’s FSB Says UK Must Curb Liberties to Beat Bombers
MosNews | July 20 2005
Britain must curb some of its cherished civil liberties if it wants to avoid more suicide bomb attacks, Reuters quoted Russia’s state security agency as saying.
Nikolai Zakharov, a spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB successor agency that leads Russia’s fight against militants, said people would come to understand that losing some rights was better than facing more attacks such as those in London on July 7 which killed 56 people.
Tighter checks on immigration and movements of people in and out of the country were among specific recommendations he made.
Russia has the dubious honor of having suffered more suicide bombings than any other European state. Hundreds of people have been killed in 15 such attacks in Moscow and the troubled North Caucasus since 2000.
“All countries that have fought the problems of suicide bombers have had to strengthen security,” Zakharov, one of the few FSB officials authorised to speak on the record to the media, told Reuters.
“People at the start complain how this, in some way, violates their civil rights. But it is aimed at protecting them and society, so they just have to agree to it.”
Moscow’s 10-year-old fight against Chechen separatists has spilled over the region’s borders as extremist militants have attacked targets far from their homeland.
Chechen rebels deployed suicide bombers —- usually women nicknamed “black widows” in Russian —- in attacks on an open-air rock concert, a hotel and the metro in Moscow.
They have also hit police checkpoints, a military hospital, buses and other targets in the seething Caucasus region.
Russia has long tried to persuade the world it is fighting international terrorists in Chechnya but has had only limited success. It was particularly vexed when Britain granted political asylum to rebel leader Akhmed Zakayev in 2003.
Within hours of the London attacks, President Vladimir Putin condemned such “double standards” in the fight against terrorism, saying the whole world should stand together.
“No country can distance itself —- no matter how effective its security services, no matter how rich it is —- it cannot distance itself from this fight,” said Zakharov.
“We cannot depart from the principles of democracy, but we have to remember the times we are living in.”
Britain has decided to investigate militant financing, and agreed to speed up new legislation to outlaw preparing, training for and inciting terrorist acts.
The European Union has suggested restricting access to bomb-making materials and improving police cooperation, but Zakharov said he believed more intrusive reforms would be needed.
“This problem requires tighter control on migration, on people leaving and entering the country and, of course, people complain,” he said.
“We saw this here with airports when everyone had to start going through metal detectors. People do not like this. But on the other hand, you have to balance that with the risk of ending up as the victim of a suicide bomber.”
He declined to comment on any direct links between the London attackers —- all British citizens —- and Russia’s own fight. But he said Britain could hardly have been unaware of the bombers’ links to extremist groups.
“The fact of the participation of British citizens in terrorist structures, including in Chechnya, has already been established,” he said, referring to Britons who have been killed fighting on the side of the rebels.
“You cannot say that our British colleagues did not know that British citizens were linked to international terrorism."