Basayev, Russia’s most wanted man, said he was behind the wave of recent attacks in Russia — including the school siege, the near-simultaneous downing of two passenger planes and a bomb attack in Moscow — in which well over 400 people died.

In his statement posted on rebel website, Basayev warned that violent campaign for an independent Chechnya would continue.

The Narodniks were an underground group of violent terrorists in Russia starting in the 1870’s. They attempted to organize the peasants, found little success, and then focused on asssassinating Czars, hoping this would trigger a mass revolution.

It didn’t work. You can’t blow stuff up and kill people, assuming this will inspire the populace to righteously rise up against the oppressor. The Narodniks had it backwards. First you get the populace on your side. Then you move against the oppressor. To do it the other way around is to invite violent repression from the authorities and to alienate those you wish to attract. (In some groups, like al Qaeda now and the IRA in the early 1900’s, this tactic has worked, and did draw supporters to their cause. However, they began with at least tacit support from some of the populace, so they had a base to build on.)

The recent school siege in Russia seems a Narodnik tactic to me, quite violent, done with little support from the populace. Indeed, it seems guaranteed to alienate those who might support the Chechan rebels. You can also hear echoes of the Narodniks in some of the more loony Left today, those who wish to jump straight to revolution without all that tedious organizing first.

The Narodniks did have an effect, and their attacks against the Tsars were brave and heroic. But they had little support. Many were caught and executed. However, in one of history’s fascinating sidenotes, the execution of one Narodnik had a profound effect on his teenage brother, who took the lessons to heart when he became an organizer. His name was Vladimir Lenin.

And now the inevitable repression is coming from Putin, who is centralizing power in the name of fighting terrorism and instituting harsh new laws and repressions (sound familiar?). He’s also blaming the West for encouraging the Chechan rebels.

We faced double standards in the attitude towards terrorism,” he said, repeating charges the West has been two-faced by giving asylum to top Chechens and urging Moscow to negotiate with rebel leaders but rejecting the possibility of dialogue with Osama bin Laden.

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