Chechnya, out of Control
It was only a few weeks ago that the Russian government was arrogantly proclaiming its brilliance in killing “notorious gang leader” Said Buryatsky in Ingushetia after allegedly linking him to the November 2009 bombing of the Nevsky Express train between St. Petersburg and Moscow, an incident that left 39 Russians dead. If the Kremlin meant to suggest that such incidents were now a thing of the past, it was very much mistaken.
Last Monday morning, just as rush hour was beginning, two Moscow subway stations were bombed, one just steps from the headquarters of the KGB on Lubianka Square. At least three dozen Russians were killed, an eerily similar number to the Nevsky incident, and right in the heart of the capital city. Days later, more bombs followed in Dagestan. It was as if the Caucasus rebels were sending a clear message to Vladimir Putin himself: “You think you’ve won? Think again.”
The BBC quoted security expert Victor Mizin, whose wife was on one of the trains attacked: “Russia opposes a very tough enemy and it comes from our North Caucasian region but still it’s an ongoing process and unfortunately the security forces are unable to quell it.”
It was soon clear that the subway attack was an act of revenge for the Kremlin’s killing several weeks earlier of Said Buryatsky, a leading mastermind of the suicide bomb and other attacks that have killed nearly 1,000 Russians since Vladimir Putin took power. It was, in other words, entirely predictable — yet Putin did not predict it, much less protect the nation from it.
Putin’s failed policies have served only to expand revolutionary fervor throughout the Caucasus region rather than quelling it, and Putin’s failure to respond to the crisis was absolute, and even Russian commentators knew it. The BBC reported:
Why didn’t senior officials… talk to people through one of the main federal channels to stop them from going into the Metro and to prevent panic?” asked writer Vadim Rechkalov in the popular daily Moskvosky Komsomolets. “Instead, from the moment when the first blast took place and till 0900 [0600 BST], the leading federal channels showed people singing, dancing, making breakfast and relieving pain with their hands.”
The attempt by the Kremlin to simply ignore and cover up the disaster, in a fully ne0-Soviet manner, was so outrageous that a number of Russian newspapers lashed out at the Kremlin for being so reckless and callous in regard to the lives of citizens. It was a new low in the sordid annals of the Putin regime.
Writing in the Moscow Times, Russian Alexei Malashekenko of the Carnegie Center states:
The metro bombings show that the violent and highly unstable situation in the North Caucasus has spread to Moscow and other parts of the country. This instability will not be solved by the Kremlin’s harsh “anti-terrorist special operations” that it claims have “exterminated” so many terrorists. On the contrary, further “exterminations” will probably make a bad situation only worse. The stakes are high. If Moscow experiences even the slightest success in subduing the extremist movement, rebel leaders could lose their authority among rank-and-file radical militants.
He warns, as we have often done, about the serious danger posed by the Caucasus region to the safety of the world’s athletes at the 2014 Olympic games:
Another important aspect of Russia’s recurring problem with terrorism is whether Russia is capable of protecting the Sochi Games from a terrorist attack. Many extremist groups in the North Caucasus, and in particular the ethnic Circassians, are opposed to holding the Olympics there. They claim that some of the Olympic complexes are being built over the bones of their compatriots who died during their deportation from Russia in the 19th century.
At least one Russian was bold enough to call for Putin’s head:
After today’s terrorist act, I am certain that President Medvedev should fire Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. This is a person who has assumed extreme powers and therefore is responsible for everything that happens in our country. Not long ago Putin promised to end terrorist acts in Russian cities and a military victory over terrorism. For this we gave up our political rights and civil liberties. We gave up the right to elect governors. All of this undoubtedly strengthened Vladimir Putin’s personal power, but did nothing to provide for our security. Today’s attacks can be seen as the collapse of Putin’s anti-terrorist policies… Medvedev probably lacks the will and the ability to fire Putin. But three people who bear responsibility for not preventing these attacks need to be fired — FSB Director [Aleksandr] Bortnikov, Interior Minister [Rashid] Nurgaliyev, and Moscow Police Chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev.
It is genuinely shocking how totally unprepared Moscow was for this act of revenge, which was entirely predictable. It was as if Moscow believed the killing of Buryatsky was so awesome a feat that the Caucasus rebels would simply cower in fear and disappear into their caves forever. But they had no reason to think so, since no such result obtained after the killing of warlord Shamil Basayev.
Putin once again made his ritualistic statement (Russian link) about “destroying” the terrorists, but these words are simply laughable now. Putin has been repeating them like a mantra ever year since he took power, through Beslan, through Dubrovka, and killing terrorist leaders like Basayev has accomplished exactly nothing. The attacks keep coming. Compare Russia with the U.S., which has been totally free from domestic terror in the decade since the 9/11 attack, and the failings of the Putin regime become truly horrifying and obvious.
Putin’s policies have failed. His “tough guy” approach to Chechnya has accomplished nothing except to spread the revolutionary fervor across a much wider region of the country, and now once again his war has come home to Moscow. If anyone else were prime minister and Putin were president, the prime minister who presided over these acts of gross malfeasance would instantly have been fired.
We condemn all acts of violence by armed combatants against unarmed civilians, by rebels and by government forces alike. We can’t see how the Chechens advance their case against Russian attacks on their civilians when they are prepared to do the same. But this does not change the fact that the barbaric polices of the KGB-dominated Putin regime are the root cause of this violence, and the regime’s total incompetence in regard to citizen safety is the reason so many Russians have been struck down. If the Kremlin can’t maintain the safety of the Russian population while holding the Caucasus enslaved, then it must end the slavery. It’s just that simple.
So it’s perfectly clear: Vladimir Putin must go. If Putin were president, PM Putin would already have been fired. Putin cannot control Chechnya, and cannot protect the public from an uncontrolled Chechnya. The Caucasus is on the brink of civil war. He must go. If he doesn’t, we will have absolute confirmation as to who really rules neo-Soviet Russia.