EDITORIAL: Blood on the White Russian Snows

EDITORIAL

Blood on the White Russian Snows

Last week Russia suffered what may well be, pound for pound, the most terrifying act of separatist violence in its history.

In a gesture of unmistakable menace towards the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the Caucasian rebels launched an all-out assault on winter sportsmen.  Three skiers from Moscow were shot dead on the road to the slopes in Kabarino-Balkaria (two other members of their party were wounded), and at nearby Mt. Elbrus another force of rebels blew up a ski lift, bringing down dozens of cable cars.  The attacks were timed to coincide with the staging of the first test events for the Sochi games.

The response of the Putin regime was truly terrifying. It openly admitted that it could not control the separatist violence, and helplessly warned Russian sportsmen to simply stay out of the area. Today Kabarino-Balkaria, tomorrow Sochi.

Russia is totally unable to protect the world’s Olympians when they travel to Sochi in 2014.  Events of terrorism are spiraling out of control all across the country, from the top of Mt. Elbrus to the Moscow subways.  Russians couldn’t care less if scores of foreign athletes are killed or maimed on their soil, many may even enjoy the prospect.  All Russians care about is the chance to pose and strut and delude themselves into thinking they are a great country.  But if terror strikes Sochi, Russian history will be permanently stained, just as was Germany by the Munich games.  The difference, of course, is that Munich was not in the heart of domestic terrorism and there was no clear warning that terror would strike there. Russians, and the world, have been clearly and repeatedly warned.

We are genuinely appalled by the recklessness of the leaders of the West, most particularly that craven, wretched coward Barack Obama.  How can our leaders simply watch as acts of violence consume Putin’s Russia, ignoring the obvious and desperate risks posed to their athletes in Sochi?

Should the axe of terrorism fall at Sochi, all those who stood silent beforehand will be guilty of murder. They will have blood on their hands, even as it stains the white snows of Southern Russia red.

5 responses to “EDITORIAL: Blood on the White Russian Snows

  1. I wrote it already, but I’ll repeat:

    Not quite. Apparently they became highly agitated after they checked the Russians’ documents and decided they nabbed the daughter of the long-time FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev. But yeah, they then just shot all 5 of them, because that’s how they roll, nowadays.

    The follow-up was a huge paramilitary operation, with the “police” blowing up half of the closed “most popular resort” with bombing and shelling but failing to kill or capture any rebels (but losing at least 1 killed on their side):

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/militants-escape/431648.html

    Munich was a completely different case – they wanted to show a new, free and open Germany, so there was little security. Their response was also botched, but it was just snipers. In Russia, “police” response is airstrikes and mortar barrages (futile).

  2. Anyway,

    There are increasing signs that North Caucasus style unrest may be spreading to nearby Krasnodar Krai, in particular to Sochi, the planned site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Authorities in Sochi today (February 25) defused an improvised explosive device (IED) that had been placed on the Maikop-Samurskaya-Sochi natural gas pipeline, which belongs to Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas monopoly, whose employees discovered the bomb. A law-enforcement source told the Interfax news agency that the IED contained 110 grams of triacetone triperoxide and a homemade detonator (www.newsru.com, February 25).

    The attempted bombing in Sochi follows an attack on tourists in nearby Kabardino-Balkaria. Three people, including a woman, were killed in the attack and two others were injured. Later that day, attackers bombed a ski-lift support pole near Mt. Elbrus. Nobody was hurt in that attack (RIA Novosti, February 20; Moscow Times, February 21). On February 18, the same day the attacks took place in Kabardino-Balkaria, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev touted preparations for the Sochi Olympics by attending a skiing event in Sochi together with Jean-Claude Killy, winner of three gold medals at the 1968 games and current head of the International Olympic Committee’s 2014 organizing commission (Bloomberg, February 24). Last July, Aleksandr Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), said his agency had information that terrorists plan to disrupt the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

    Meanwhile, authorities in Kabardino-Balkaria on February 24 continued to search for a group of militants who were involved in a shootout with a group of Interior Ministry commandos two days earlier. The search was being carried out in the republic’s Elbrus district. On February 22, a unit of Interior Ministry Internal Troops engaged a group of suspected rebel fighters in a mountain pass between the villages of Bylym (in the Baksan Gorge) and Bulungu (in the Chegm Gorge). One serviceman was killed in the battle and six were wounded, two of them seriously. A spokesman with the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said three militants died in the shootout, but the Investigative Committee later said it had no information about dead or wounded among the militants (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 24). Following the shootout, Russian military forces bombarded the mountainous area where the militants were thought be hiding, employing both mortars and airstrikes. However, no bodies were found after the bombardment. Security forces conducting a special operation in the area did discover a rebel base, where they found weapons and explosives (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 23).

    On February 23, unidentified gunmen in Kabardino-Balkaria shot a policeman in the city of Baksan. The two attackers fired on the officer, identified as Lt. Aslan Afasizhev, from a car as he was returning home from work. He was wounded and hospitalized (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 23). On February 19, a policeman was killed and another wounded in Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital Nalchik when another group of policemen, apparently thinking they were militants, mistakenly opened fire on them. That same day, unidentified gunmen shot and killed the head of administration of the suburban Nalchik village of Khasanya, Ramazan Friev (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 19; EDM, February 22).

    • And the very next day, in capital of the republic:

      NALCHIK, Russia, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Militants simultaneously attacked several strategic points on Friday in Russia’s North Caucasus, where Moscow is battling an Islamist insurgency, but killed no one, security sources said.

      Rebels in Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital Nalchik took aim at the regional headquarters of the federal security services, the FSB, with a grenade launcher, set off an explosion in a hotel courtyard and opened fire on two police checkpoints.

      “The building and a nearby car received some damage but no one was hurt,” a source with the regional FSB, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters.

      The attack was “coordinated” by three groups of rebels at around 8 p.m. (1700 GMT), said a separate police source, also speaking on condition of anonymity. He added that one officer had been injured when rebels shot at his checkpoint.

      He said that security was being beefed up across Nalchik late on Friday.

      Violence in Kabardino-Balkaria has increased over the last year, leading analysts to say the insurgency is expanding beyond its usual centres of violence, such as Dagestan and Chechnya.

      Though the Kremlin continues to pour billions of dollars into the North Caucasus, analysts say this has little affect and violence will continue to rise. (Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman)

      http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/MINE-8EEUMY?OpenDocument

  3. KBR also gets its own “Ulster volunteers”:

    North Caucasus Federal District head Aleksandr Khloponin finally faced up to reality on February 21, admitting to senior Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR) officials that “a small group of terrorists has managed to intimidate the whole republic.”

    In future, however, the Kabardino-Balkaria-Karchai jamaat headed by Asker Jappuyev will have to contend with a second adversary in the shape of the “Black Hawks,” a band of armed, masked, black-clad men who have vowed to kill Jappuyev, prominent commander Zakaria, and a third fighter, Astemir Mamishev, for having “brought shame upon their race” by killing innocent civilians and by aligning themselves with veteran Chechen commander Doku Umarov, self-styled head of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate.

    http://www.rferl.org/content/who_are_kabardino-balkaria_back_hawks/2319966.html

    He goes on to warn that “we shall exact revenge not just from you, but from your families.” He tells Mamishev and Zakaria “your days are numbered, we are already on your tracks,” and implicitly threatens to deprive Zakaria of the sight of his remaining eye. (He lost his right eye several years ago, reportedly when the car in which he was travelling blew up, killing his brother.) That threat effectively deprives the Black Hawks of any claim to the moral high ground, as does the fact that unlike jamaat leaders Jappuyev, Kazbek Tashuyev, and Zakaria, they wear masks to conceal their identity.

    The Black Hawks’ clear contempt for the police and FSB would seem to rule out the possibility that they are former police officers who resigned rather than risk being gunned down, and were recruited and answerable to former KBR Interior Minister Khachim Shogenov, who was wounded in May 2010 in a bombing for which Jappuyev claimed responsibility.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s