EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Insanity I


Annals of Russian Insanity I

We can’t help but remark again upon the amazing irony involved in the recent disaster at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant.  When bombs exploded a decade ago in two Moscow apartment buildings, the Chechen rebels denied involvement.  The Kremlin refused to accept their denial, and insisted they were guilty.  As a result, the launched a massive invasion of Chechnya.

Yet in the case of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant, where the Chechen rebels claimed credit for the explosion that crippled the plant, the Kremlin insisted they had nothing to do with it and ignored them.  How can this possibly be explained?

It’s certainly possible that the Kremlin is telling the truth in the second case. After all, as Vladimir Ryzhkov recently explained in a Moscow Times column, the government controlled RusHydro conglomerate that owned the hydroelectic plant had squandered millions on palatial office complexes in Moscow and fat paychecks for its head honchos while ignoring the plant’s desperate need for rennovation and repair (it had already experienced three very serious accidents before the one that crippled it several weeks ago).  So-called “president” Dima Medvedev has even suggested he might bring criminal charges against these fatcats because of their grossly irresponsible behavior.

But it’s just as likely that the Kremlin believes — rightly — that it can’t afford the public humilation that would result from admitting that one of Russia’s largest industrial installations was obliterated by rebel groups it supposedly “pacified” years ago.  Stunning as it is, the Kremlin may very well prefer the humliation of being exposed as badly bungling the domestic infrastructure — something which, after all, it has not publicy denied — rather than being shown to have lied to the nation about the current power of the Chechen rebels.

And this creates an opportunity for the opposition, which Ryzhvov is rightly pouncing upon.  The Kremlin is defenseless on the issue of infrastructure, it is admitting defeat.  This means now is the time for the opposition to attack.  How can the people of Russia accept such stunning and humilating failure on the part of the KGB Kremlin? How can they not demand that monies currently being wasted on cold-war politics be diverted to benefitting the people of the country? Surely, if the oppositon is willing to make this case forcefully, the people of Russia will have no choice but to listen.

6 responses to “EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Insanity I

  1. @the current power of the Chechen rebels.

    It’s North Caucasus rebels nowadays.

  2. While it could have been a bomb or sabotage, the reputation of what passes for preventative maintenance on Russian infrastructure (like most fear states) makes me lean towards the accident theory and from what I have been told some of that electrical equipment can release a huge amount of force when it fails the right way. But the fact that the terror claim is so plausible is itself telling.

    Were there any assesments about the structure of the dam itself before the explosion? I know the safety record was a concern but as far as the actual strength of the dam – if there was any concern before hand I doubt a massive explosion like that would be helpful and these sorts of structural issues can progress over time. I can’t remember if it was this site or one of the sites on your blog roll but someone mentioned that if there was a failure, in addition to the loss of life, it could sever transportation links between east and west Siberia all the way along the river to the arctic ocean for some time. G_d, if it happened in the dead of winter the water, ice and debris wave of destruction would leave everything deluged to rapidly coat with ice. I don’t know exactly how many people live a long that river but from the satellite photos it looks like a very large number of towns, villages and small cities. It could be a massive disaster.

  3. And just the fact that terrorists are claiming responsibility for the explosion means that the dam could easily become a future target, even if the claim is false. If the Russian military is worth anything at all they need to have anti aircraft weapons able to enforce a no-fly-zone around that dam.

  4. Actually, now that I look again at the satellite images, there seem to be some areas that could cause the flood waters to be spread out by lakes so it would still be a disaster but over a much smaller geographic region.

  5. @When bombs exploded a decade ago in two Moscow apartment buildings

    For war journalist Scott Anderson, the most confounding part of his recent assignment for GQ magazine to explore the root of terrorist acts in Russia a decade ago wasn’t the suggestion of treachery and subterfuge he found.

    It was the reception his story ultimately received in the United States.

    “It was quite mysterious to me,” Anderson says. “All of a sudden, it became clear that they were going to run the article but they were going to try to bury it under a rock as much as they possibly could.”

    Anderson, 50, is an accomplished reporter and novelist who has written previously for Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and Vanity Fair.

    His investigative piece, published in the September American edition of GQ, challenges the official line on a series of bombings that killed hundreds of people in 1999 in Russia. It profiles a former KGB agent who spoke in great detail and on the record, at no small risk to himself. But instead of trumpeting his reporting, GQ’s corporate owners went to extraordinary lengths to try to ensure no Russians will ever see it.


  6. Five years have passed after the tragedy in Beslan; the investigation is still on; but people until now do not know the whole truth why 334 persons perished and who was guilty of the tragedy.


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