Thursday, April 1, 2010

Updating the Russian story

It does not get any better. At least 12 people were killed when two suicide bombers struck in Kizlyar in Dagestan, the other Autonomous Republic apart from Ingushetiya that the Chechnyan war spread to a long time ago.
The dead included a number of police officers, including the town's police chief. According to the Russian Interior Ministry, one of the suicide attackers drove a car bomb in the direction of the town center. When traffic police attempted to halt the vehicle, the bomb was detonated. The explosion took place near a day-care center and a police station. The second blast occurred after a bomber dressed as a police officer joined the crowd of investigators, rescue workers and onlookers and then detonated the explosives.
Terrorist attacks are not unknown in the Caucasus and neither are ferocious reprisals by the Russian troops. Normally they are not reported in the Russian media, let alone the Western one but coming as they did 48 hours after the Moscow attacks, these explosions are seen as sinister harbingers of a wider campaign.

There is now a general assumption that the attacks are revenge ones for the military operation in Ingushetiya that I mentioned in the previous posting on the subect.

Meanwhile, President Prime Minister Putin has put on his tough guy act again and using the language he usually employs at times like this has announced that "the accomplices and the masterminds" of these attacks had to be "scraped from the bottom of the sewer and into the daylight". All well and good but as a number of Russian and Western commentators and, indeed, Russian security service spokesmen have noted, the war, which was supposed to be over some time ago is continuing unabated. Gutter language (in this case, quite literally so) has made little difference to reality.

Doku Umarov, a Chechnyan separatist who has proclaimed himself to be a fighter in the global jihad and a firm supporter of Sharia law in Chechnya has claimed responsibility for the Moscow and Kizlyar explosions though, obviously, not personally. It is one of the major tragedies of that twenty-year old conflict (apart from the tens of thousands dead, tens of thousands maimed and mentally scarred on both sides) that what had started as a possibly soluble question of national self-government has been taken over though only to some extent by Islamist extremists. Doku Umarov would not have been given the time of day by the first Chechnyan leader, General Dzhokhar Dudayev, killed by the Russians in 1996 or by Aslan Maskhadov, the last leader to be elected in anything remotely resembling a free and fair contest, also killed by the Russians in

As the same article in the New York Times describes the reaction to the attacks has been quite similar to previous ones. President Medvedev has called for "far more cruel tactics" in dealing with militants. Indeed, the Ministry of Interior will be overhauled with that particular aim in view.
The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service said that authorities knew who planned Monday’s attack and the double suicide bombing on Wednesday in Dagestan that killed 12, and that they were interrogating suspects and carrying out search operations.
This has worked so well before.


  1. One comment though-it does seem that the apartment buildings, referred to earlier, were blown up by the FSB. This was one of the reasons Litvinenko was assassinated-for talking too much.

  2. I thought that was reasonably clear from the way I referred to those explosions. I certainly wouldn't argue about that and neither would any Russian I know, regardless of how they feel about Chechnyans.