The apartment bombings that terrorized Russia in September convinced even those who thought Russia should have let Chechnya go its own way in 1991 that the Chechens deserved everything they got. Laying siege to a hospital, bombing the families of soldiers: these were inhuman acts, so the gloves were off.
..The next day, something incredible happened. FSB director Nikolai Patrushev issued a statement saying that the planting of a bomb in the Ryazan basement had been a “training exercise” to test the vigilance of the local security forces and residents! He said that there had been no explosives at all and that the sugar bags had actually been full of sugar, not hexogen.
This fantastical story was required because law enforcement and the local FSB office in Ryazan had already detected and exposed extensive FSB involvement in the attempted bombing. Suspicious phone intercepts on the night of the bombing were traced back to FSB headquarters in Moscow. Two men arrested in Ryazan had been carrying FSB identity cards and were released into the custody of a senior official from Moscow. Patrushev was obviously trying to cover his agency’s tracks, but there were far too many giant holes in his story.
...More and more evidence and inconsistencies accumulated, enough to turn a nightmarish conspiracy theory about agents within the Russian government mass-murdering people for political purposes into a case that is very hard to refute on the facts.
...A deep investigation and analysis of the case were turned into a devastating book by former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror
. The same Litvinenko, who had become a fierce Putin critic, was assassinated in London in 2006 with the rare radioactive substance polonium-210.