Press review: Terrorist attacks in the Moscow Metro

Op ed: They blew themselves up
Vedomosti

The metro bombings are not new to Russia. Neither is the ensuing wave of anger and compassion, which is, alas, unlikely to prompt the security forces to do a better job. The security system is obviously and consistently failing to protect us.

“The terrorists will be obliterated,” promised Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. ‘Obliteration’ of the militants’ leaders who apparently masterminded the attacks is a knee-jerk approach that seems to be missing the point while it turns criminals into heroes in the eyes of their followers and excludes any public control over the process. Regrettably, the Kremlin has a meagre record of smart undercover operations, engagement programmes for the younger generation or socio-economic improvements in the North Caucasus republics.

“The policy to counter terrorism in our country will continue,” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. This policy has continued self-righteously unchanged since 1999. Adopted after the hostage crises in Baslan and a Moscow theatre, the present counter-terrorist concept is, if anything, outdated.

The public outrage over the bombings will be a quick flash in the pan for the Kremlin has relentlessly curtailed public influence in general in an effort to crack down on terrorism. The Neva Express train was bombed only months ago on its way between Moscow and St Petersburg. Do you see any changes?


Political noises after Moscow attacks: harsh statements with little insight
by Vyacheslav Gavrilov, Victor Khamraev, KOMMERSANT
Russian politicians reacted to the bombings in the Moscow metro with iron-fisted proposals of varying brutality, but provided little insight on the root causes.
Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist party, believes that “we will never solve this problem without taking the toughest possible measures” and proposes to lift the moratorium on the death penalty for serious crimes.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the right-wing nationalist LDPR party, spoke in more cautious terms. He thinks that the FSB security service should reinforce control in the North Caucasus as well as across the country. To this end, he suggests they should "introduce mandatory biometric registration for the citizens."

Apart from terrorists, says Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, appropriate punishment should be dispensed to those police officials who "failed to learn their lessons from previous attacks". The co-chairs of the Right Cause, a liberal opposition party, Georgy Bovt and Leonid Gozman believe that in a crisis like that, the public should fully support its security services and demonstrate national solidarity.

The speaker of the Russian State Duma, Boris Gryzlov, called for everyone "to unite in the face of the terrorist threat and refuse to be intimidated by those who hate people and seek to destroy the peaceful life of our citizens".


In the line of fire
Moscow passengers killed in a war they did not wage

by Yulia Kalinina, Moscovskiy Komsomolets

“Preventing terrorist attacks of this kind is a challenging task," said President Medvedev at a special security meeting after the metro bombings in Moscow on 29 March 2010.

As a matter of fact, preventing such attacks is an impossible task. If terrorists are committed to setting off a bomb, they definitely will.

Indeed, our security and police forces are dragging their feet, no doubt about that. But even if they worked their hardest, the security agencies would not be able to keep all the threats out as they fail to do so in Israel, the UK, Spain or any other country where security systems are far more effective than in Russia.

The biggest problem is not the weakness of our ‘siloviki’, but the involvement of our country in a religious war, in which all Russians, regardless of faith, find themselves in the line of fire.

The war for Islamic renewal raging in the Muslim world is not our war. The Muscovites who were killed on Monday morning fell victim to someone else’s conflict. We have bogged down in a war we do not need after we gave support to one of the sides, and now there is no way back.

Were it not for the blunt policy in the North Caucasus the Kremlin has been pursuing over the last 15 years, Muscovites would have never even heard of Wahhabism, a radical Islamic movement, and would not be killed in suicide attacks in the metro.

But then our entire nation would have to be very different, having stopped to assume the role of a global leader in a fight against evil forces of all camps. Basically, what Russians need to understand is that they are getting blasted for the great cause of a great superpower. Then, perhaps, going down into the Metro would feel less scary.


Vulnerability of insecurity
Moscow under attack: when it pays off to be paranoid

by Stanislav Minin, Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Any terrorist attack is a test of a society's integrity and very few pass with flying colours. Political opponents point accusing fingers at each other, blaming either “Putin’s regime” or “the grant-guzzling liberals who are rocking the boat" together with western secret services. Less sophisticated folk attack Muslim women in the metro and authorise themselves to check the bags of people from the Caucasus who are unlucky enough to rouse suspicion.

Some radical voices demand reinstatement of the death penalty for terrorists. This is nothing but a populist attempt to ride the wave of flaring emotions. Whom do we expect to frighten with the death penalty? Those who willingly sacrifice their lives? Those for whom walking on the razor’s edge is routine?

We have to stay alert. We become easy prey once we relax into complacency. Even if we, with an audacious leap of imagination, frisk each of the 7 million passengers on the Moscow metro, lock all the cellars under our houses, and x-ray all and sundry before letting them into our stadiums and concert halls, we will merely create floating fortresses in the ocean of deadly risk, which will not ebb away.

The government is responsible for what has happened. The country is teeming with security agents and they should do their job properly. They have been vested with sufficient authority to succeed. They do not need any more agencies or more powers or more restrictions on our freedoms.

The resounding official statements say that the enemy will fall and we will win. The authorities also promise that those responsible for the Moscow bombings will be wiped out. I feel a strong urge to believe the first mantra, and even tend to believe the second one (the initial investigation has identified the age, height, clothes, body marks and even names of the suspects). But I also feel the presence of a dark, unfathomable and eerie uncertainty.

And vulnerability too. We are vulnerable. Remember this to make sure you do not need another reminder.

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