It is not really surprising that confusion surrounds the derailment of the Moscow-St Petersburg train yesterday, that may or may not have been caused by a "home-made explosive device". 26 people have been killed, around 100 injured and 18 still supposedly missing. Among those killed there are a few high-ranking official but that, in itself, means nothing. This would be the transport of choice for most of them.
There are various accounts from survivors but these are, as is the case usually, conflicting in the evidence they present. Some say they heard a big bang, some say there was no explosion just a sudden braking and derailment.
In the meantime, the head of Russia's FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, has said that traces of explosive material were found by the railway line. He is also quoted as saying that "hidden on the railway line between Moscow and St Petersburg, contained the equivalent of 7kg (15.4lb) of TNT". According to the BBC Russian Service [in Russian], Vladimir Markin, the official representative of the Investigative Committee attached to the Procurator, has also announced that this was a terrorist act and President Medvedev has called for calm.
As the Guardian reports, officials have not yet named whom they suspect of the putative terrorist attack but there is no doubt in most people's minds that the finger will be pointed at Chechnyan rebels and terrorists, though, apparently, a neo-Nazi group that opposes non-Russian migration into Russia proper, has claimed responsibility.
The Telegraph report helpfully points out that, while fighting may have died down in Chechnya, murders and terrorist attacks have increased in number. One has to admit, their list is not particularly useful as it lumps together various crimes instead of tryng to sort out who might have been responsible for what. Then again, the Russian government has never bothered to have a proper enquiry into the Beslan school siege or the Moscow theatre siege.
Because of that and because of the unresolved issues around those apartment block bombings that triggered off the second Chechnyan war and propelled Putin into real power, one cannot help being suspicious, which may well be unfair. My guess is that there are many people in Russia who are suspicious of what happened and are waiting to see the outcome. Others, of course, will have no hesitation in assuming Chechnyan guilt.
3 hours ago