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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Militants Warn of Terror Spree

Militant hardliners are threatening to unleash a campaign of political assassination against leading allies of President Boris Yeltsin, warning that the violence that shook Russia early this month has only just begun.

The militants, who support the banned National Unity Party of Russia headed by Alexander Barkashov, a rightist extremist, say they will shun urban guerrilla tactics, like blowing up cars or placing bombs in the metro, in favor of targeting men like Mayor Yury Luzhkov for murder.

"Anyone who thinks that Russia can be destroyed by four tanks is a complete idiot", the party's "intelligence chief", Andrei Klevshchov, said in an interview made available to The Moscow Times. "The war is just beginning".

Klevshchov, who went into hiding along with Barkashov and other members of the banned group following the Oct. 3-4 bloodshed in Moscow, made his comments to Alexander Chudakov, a reporter for the newspaper Rabochaya Tribuna, who provided a transcript.

"Car bombs and explosions in the metro do not make any sense", Klevshchov said. "Our goal is to decapitate the criminal regime, not to terrorize the population".

There is no way of knowing whether or not Klevshchov's claims are true, or just the rumblings of a thwarted warrior. A spokesman for the Security Ministry refused to comment on the specifics of Klevshchov's statements, saying only: "The Security Ministry takes very seriously any threats to the national security of Russia".

According to Klevshchov, the militants have a hit list of more than 200 names. At the top of the list, he said, is Luzhkov, followed by Interior Minister Viktor Yerin and Colonel General Alexander Kulikov, the commandant for Moscow's state of emergency.

Luzhkov's office could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman for Kulikov expressed skepticism at the news of a hit list, as well as reports of an armed camp of Barkashov supporters near Moscow.

"I heard on the radio that they were in Serbia", he said. "I wouldn't take too much on faith if I were you".

In addition to political terror, Klevshchov said, the group will seek to drum up popular support in the regions "so that at a specific hour all of Russia will rise up against the aliens who have taken over the Kremlin". He denounced Russia's current leadership as "a bourgeois-Zionist occupation force".

The National Unity Party of Russia is one of several extremist factions involved in events at the White House. Its men were reportedly well armed and stayed inside the besieged building almost until the end of the army's deadly assault.

In the interview, Klevshchov said that he and his men were now in hiding at a secluded location outside Moscow, a place he referred to as "an armed camp". He said that the militants had left the burning White House through underground passageways on Oct. 4 and were taken to safety by waiting trucks.

If the militants do attempt to organize a wave of political killings, they will be continuing a notorious tradition in Russia.

In the 19th century, the group Narodnaya Volya, or People's Will, waged an assassination campaign designed to rid Russia of its autocratic regime, organizing the murder of Tsar Alexander II in 1881.

Lenin's older brother, Alexander Ulyanov, who headed a splinter faction of People's Will, was hanged in 1887 for an assassination attempt against Alexander III. Pyotr Stolypin, Russia's agricultural reformer, was shot and killed in 1911 by a member of the radical Socialist Revolutionary Party.

In Soviet times, political terror took a much more organized form, and groups other than the Communist Party simply did not exist. Even the alleged assassination attempt against Lenin in 1918 by Fanny Kaplan is being reexamined by modern historians as a provocation by the government, which used the incident to launch a terror campaign against political foes. Stalin used the same tactic with the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934.

Other defeated hardliners are echoing the threat of terrorism. Alexander Prokhanov, the editor of Den, an extreme nationalist newspaper that has now been shut down, said in an interview with Reuters: "The events around the White House mean that there will be a civil war in Russia".

Prokhanov stopped short of Klevshchov's sweeping pronouncements of political assassination.

"Some people who were there when the White House was destroyed may want to avenge their dead comrades", he said. "I do not exclude the possibility of terror. But it won't be a mass movement, these groups are very small".