[Ed. – Potato diplomacy not working?]
David Satter – a distinguished former correspondent with the Financial Times and the author of three well-received books on Russia and the Soviet Union – was told on Christmas Day that he had been banned from the country.
Satter had been based in the Russian capital since September. Last month, he travelled to the Ukrainian capital Kiev to renew his visa where Alexy Gruby, a diplomat at the Russian embassy, read him a prepared statement that said: “The competent organs have decided that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is not desirable. You are banned from entering Russia.” …
Asked why Russia had kicked him out, Satter said he did not know the answer. But he speculated that the FSB’s decision may be linked to his writings on Russia’s 1999 apartment bombings – one of the murkiest episodes in the country’s post-Soviet history.
More than 300 people were killed in a series of unprovoked explosions in Moscow and two other cities. Putin blamed the bombings on Chechen terrorists. He immediately seized on the blasts to justify a second, punitive and devastating war in Chechnya.
Satter, and others, believe the bombings may have been an undercover FSB operation, designed to boost Putin’s popularity and to secure his election as president.