| Plane crash a terror attack: authorities (August 27, 2004)“According to our initial investigation, at least one of the air crashes, the one in the Rostov region, came as a result of a terror attack,” spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko told ITAR-TASS news agency.

Investigators said they had found traces of explosive material in the wreckage of one of the two planes that crashed in southern Russia, Russian news agencies reported.

“During the investigation of the wreckage of the Tupolev 154, we found traces of explosive material,” a spokesman for the FSB intelligence agency was quoted by ITAR-TASS and Interfax news agencies as saying.

The spokesman, Sergei Ignachenko, identified the material as Hexogen, the same material that Russian authorities claimed was used in a series of apartment bombings in 1999 that killed some 200 people.”

The Russian press issued unusual and harsh criticism of the Government, lashing out at authorities for refusing to admit that the planes were in all likelihood brought down by terrorism or sabotage.

“Ahead of presidential elections in Chechnya, authorities do not want to admit the obvious fact: only Chechen rebels can organize attacks of this scale in Russia,” the business daily Kommersant commented on its front pages.

The centrist paper Izvestia took a similar tone, accusing officials of “failing to see the links” between the plane crash and controversial elections scheduled to take place in war-torn Chechnya on Sunday.

“An inexplicable tragic coincidence – that is how the official special services tried to explain the events,” Izvestia said.

In all likelyhood Russia is expected to “kick it up a notch” with respect to eradicating terrorism in the Balkins. Look for more Russian military presence in the region and don’t be surprised if some of it doesn’t come from the U.S. in the coming months. Most likely in the form of indirect satellite and intel support. – zzb