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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

Russian TV Holds Debate on Controversial 9/11 Film

September 15, 2008

To mark the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist acts, on 12 September Russian Channel One TV showed a controversial documentary, “Zero”, which questions the official version of events. The screening of the film, made by prominent Italian journalist and MEP Giulietto Chiesa, was followed by a studio discussion, in which two groups of experts – those who agree with Chiesa’s version and those who disagree – expressed their views.

“The film, justifiably or not – we’ll be discussing this tonight – questions the official version of events, but the film – and I’ve watched it with great attention almost twice over – never directly accuses the US government or Congress, or some dark forces in America, or the [American] Foreign [Policy] Council, of masterminding and organizing the terrorist acts. So, I am asking you: who did it?” moderator Aleksandr Gordon said at the beginning of the debate.

According to Aleksey Pushkov, author and presenter of the “Postscript” current affairs programme on Russian Centre TV and director of the Strategic Studies Institute under the Diplomatic Academy, the terrorist acts in New York in September 2001 were organized by a “very influential group of people who needed them”.

Vitaliy Tretyakov, editor-in-chief of the Political Class magazine and former editor-in-chief of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta heavyweight daily, described the US official report as “fiction”. He said he could not believe that a small group of terrorists could have masterminded the attacks.

On the other hand, Vladimir Rubanov, former head of the KGB’s analytical department, said he could not see anything extraordinary in what happened and it was plausible.

Mikhail Leontyev, Channel One TV presenter and editor-in-chief of the Profil magazine, said he did not believe the official version of events for three reasons. The first, he said, “is that it was a one- off [terrorist] act. A certain organization committed a totally extraordinary act from the point of view of its coordination. Allegedly, this organization still exists, it continues fighting and killing people; it is keeping the US army in two countries in the world and, at the same time, there has not been a single [terrorist] act on the territory of the United States since.”"The fact that there has not been a single repetition of this terrorist act proves that the first one was false,” he added.

Leontyev continued: “Secondly, why [was the 11 September terrorist act committed]? The United States stood to gain so much from it. Certain circles that are certainly linked to the current administration stood to gain from it. It was so much in their interests that the terrorist act became inevitable.”

“Thirdly, all the people who are regarded as the fictitious or real organizers of this [terrorist] act, all these people were controlled by the American special services.”

Aleksandr Sharavin, director of the Institute of Political and Military Studies, said he found many of the arguments used in Chiesa’s film unconvincing.

Aleksey Vvedenskiy, a spokesman for special construction projects in Moscow, said he supported the official version. He said the twin towers had collapsed because they had been hit by the aircraft, not because they had been blown up. He explained in technical detail how it could have happened.

Another construction specialist, director of the Risks and Security of Buildings research centre, Ashot Tamrazyan, said his organization had created a model and carried out many tests that had shown that the twin towers could not have collapsed unless there had been other contributing factors.”

Architect Mikhail Khazanov could not explain the collapse of the third building.

Film Director Vladimir Khotinenko praised the film for raising questions but not delivering verdicts. He also said the collapse of the towers was very “cinematic” in the spirit of the best Hollywood blockbusters.

Channel One correspondent Vladimir Sukhoy was near the twin towers when they collapsed. He said he had witnessed the tragedy and he believed the official version.

Robert Bridge, editor-in-chief of The Moscow News English- language newspaper, doubted that a civilian Boeing aircraft had crashed into the Pentagon building. He said: “In any plane crash there are remains left. There is luggage, there are seats, etc.”: “Why did this plane crash so differently from any other crash we have seen?” he asked.

Cosmonaut Vladimir Dezhurov, who was on the International Space Station at the time and saw the 9/11 events from space, also said an air crash always left debris behind.

Another eye-witness, ITAR-TASS correspondent Yuriy Kirilchenko, said the film had proved that a serious investigation of the tragedy was still needed because many questions remained unanswered.

No-one in the audience raised their hands when they were asked to do so by the moderator if they believed the US official version of events.

Originally published by Channel One TV, Moscow, in Russian 1725 12 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.