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Russia awaits political fallout from blasts
ft.com ^ | March 30, 2010 | Charles Clover

Posted on 03/30/2010 1:09:05 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

As Russia mourned the 39 commuters who died in Monday’s suicide bombings, speculation mounted over the political consequences for the country.

Previous high-profile terror attacks have been followed by political crackdowns. Many believe similar curbs resulting from the blasts on the capital’s underground rail network could endanger the modest democratic reforms announced last year by Dmitry Medvedev, Russian president. Some analysts are referring to the present period as a “thaw” following the more authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin, president from 2000 to 2008 and now the country’s prime minister.

“In Russia a thaw can release forces of chaos which then must be put down by tougher political measures,” said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist at Moscow State University.

In 1999 the bombings of apartment buildings ushered in the second Chechen war and the political career of Mr Putin. In 2004 the Beslan school siege in which more than 300 hostages died was followed by the abolition of the election of governors in Russia’s regions.

Opposition leaders warn that the Kremlin would use Monday’s explosions as a pretext to clamp down further on its critics and ban demonstrations. Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Solidarity party, said there would be “yet more censorship and political investigations, more police crackdowns on demonstrations. But this won’t save us from terrorism.”

Other experts believe the lessons of the past are more nuanced. Aleksei Makarkin, of the Centre for Political Technology in Moscow, believed that terrorism created “an emergency situation” which the government often used to its advantage.

“We have this peculiarity – a terrorist act gives an impulse to changes that have already been prepared but cannot be realised because society is not ready for them, or there is resistance in the elite. They are things that the regime meant to do, and society gives them carte blanche,” he said.

Today, however, the Kremlin was not interested in cracking down, he said. “What we see today is a desire for more openness, friendship with the west, getting settled in global society,” he said. “This is the line that has been prepared, and I see it continuing or strengthening. They are not interesting in being marginalised and isolated.”

Sergei Markov, a parliamentary deputy from United Russia, the ruling party, said the political consequences of Monday's attacks “will not be simplistic”. “We are talking about more economic help for the Caucasus, fighting against corruption, reforming security services. The opposition can say what they want, but I don’t see it leading to some sort of crackdown,” he said.

There are signs that the reputation of Russia’s siloviki – the “strong guys” who head the security services – could be hit for not preventing the attacks. One analyst referred to a trend in Russian politics of “siloviki bashing”, especially after a spate of scandals in the police.

Several observers noted a declaration by Aleksander Gurov, a parliamentary deputy from United Russia, calling for the resignation of Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Services, successor to the KGB. “The leadership of the FSB should be thinking about how to increase security ... and not about pursuing their own goals,” he said.

Mr Markov said: “One gets the impression the law enforcement agencies are more interested in giving protection to business, and not looking for terrorists.”

Monday’s blasts could also influence the delicate balance of power between Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev. While Mr Medvedev has constitutional authority over law enforcement agencies, many there owe their loyalty to Mr Putin, a former head of the FSB.

“When something traumatic happens in Russia, people always look to Putin,” said Ms Kryshtanovskaya. One act of terrorism was not enough to create public hysteria, she said, but more bombings could “bring about calls for Putin to return to power”.

On Monday Mr Medvedev spent much of the day giving administrative orders, while Mr Putin vowed to “destroy” the terrorists.

Mr Putin said on Tuesday that the bombers would be “scraped from the sewers”, reminding many of his threat in 1999 after the Moscow apartment bombings to shoot terrorists “on the toilets”.


TOPICS: Russia
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; chechen; globaljihad; gwot; islam; jihad; moscow; moscowblasts; muslims; radicalmuslims; russia; suicidebombers; terrorism; terrrorists; wot

1 posted on 03/30/2010 1:09:06 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

The real question is what Putin does


2 posted on 03/30/2010 1:16:33 PM PDT by reaganwasright1980
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To: reaganwasright1980

I’m sure the Russians will use this as a reason to change their term limit laws to keep Putin and his clique around longer.


3 posted on 03/30/2010 1:26:51 PM PDT by Eyes Unclouded ("The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." -George Carlin)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Russia is a dying country,the socialist set about exterminating their own and complained that it took so long for the undesirables to die.

Years after the revolution and the poison still kills and kills and the damage cannot be fixed. Ban vodka,ban abortion and still the Russian population will continue to implode.

They won’t anyway because abortion is a form of contraception over there and vodka is the national symbol.


4 posted on 03/30/2010 1:27:32 PM PDT by Del Rapier
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To: Del Rapier

In Russia things can change almost over night. When called to sacrifice the Russian People always rise to the challenge. In this war the Russian people will crush any who seek to imploy terror upon them. New sacrifices may well be to have more children, to seek to convert the Islamic peoples, to re-build Russia. Do not sell them short—the Russians will surprise you every time —if you don’t believe it—ask any German.


5 posted on 03/30/2010 2:21:57 PM PDT by Forward the Light Brigade (Into the Jaws of H*ll)
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To: Forward the Light Brigade

Agree. I’ve always respected any group who could live under Obamaism...er Communism.

I hope they consider Chechnya to be Germany and sock it to them.

Big time.


6 posted on 03/30/2010 2:51:27 PM PDT by Da Coyote
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To: Tailgunner Joe
the Beslan school siege

I was very disappointed when the Russians didn't respond to this barbaric act more forcefully.

7 posted on 03/30/2010 4:04:43 PM PDT by layman (Card Carrying Infidel)
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