Vladimir Putin may start today’s meeting with Russian diplomats at the Foreign Affairs Ministry with a moment of silence. The sad ceremony will be held in memory of the four officers of the Russian embassy killed in Baghdad.
The third secretary of the Russian embassy in Iraq, Fyodor Zaitsev (27), security guard Oleg Fedoseyev (41), driver Anatoly Smirnov (33) and cook Rinat Agliulin (also in his late twenties) were brutally killed by al-Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad.
Russia’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs originally refused to confirm the fact of the murder yesterday. However, the officials had to acknowledge later in the evening that the four employees of the Russian embassy in Baghdad had been killed indeed.
The pessimistic conclusion has been made as a result of the analysis of the video tape that the terrorists uploaded on the Internet. The terrorists that killed the Russian officials in Baghdad are considered to be members of the al-Qaeda network in Iraq. The footage of the execution contains quite a number of contradictory factors. The hostages’ faces are not visible during the moment of the actual execution; some of them wear different shirts than those worn during the first days of captivity.
However, experts came to conclusion that the Russian hostages have been killed. The terrorists put two hostages on their knees, cut their heads off and shot the third hostage dead. It is still unknown how the fourth official died. The dead bodies of the killed Russian diplomats have not been found yet.
Moscow has urged the Iraqi administration and the command of the multinational forces in Iraq to take efforts and punish those who committed the horrible crime against the Russian citizens. It goes without saying that it will be extremely hard and almost impossible to find the murderers. The local authorities or the US administration do not seem to be able to do anything at this point either.
Russian officials stated yesterday that the coalition forces were responsible for security in Iraq, including the safety of foreign diplomats in Baghdad. “The responsibility for the execution of the Russian diplomats is the burden on the shoulders of all those who occupied Iraq. This crime is on their conscience,” deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma Lubov Sliska said.
The head of the Iraqi Cultural Forum (the organization unites Iraqi emigrants in Russia, mostly those people who stand against Saddam Hussein’s regime), Salyam Musafir, said in an interview with Vremya Novostei newspaper that Western secret services were standing behind the tragedy with the Russian diplomats. “This is a US-led game. This is how they decided to punish the Russian diplomacy for its anti-war stance. The USA is definitely responsible for the fact that they have occupied Iraq but failed to establish law and order there,” the official said.
Several Russian officials share the same opinion, although this point of view is absolutely rejected in Iraq. Iraqi politicians are certain that the crime has been committed by al-Qaeda.
“The events have taken the worst turn for the Russian hostages from the very beginning of the story. US forces killed al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab Zarqawi four days after the Russian diplomats had been kidnapped. In addition, Russian forces destroyed a terrorist leader in Chechnya (Abdul Sadulayev) on June 17. It became even harder to try and rescue the kidnapped diplomats after that,” a Russian official said.
It is worthy of note that terrorists gave Russia a ridiculous 48-hour ultimatum on June 19 to withdraw troops from Chechnya. Moscow described those people as “monsters without dignity, conscience and faith.”
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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