Posts Tagged ‘Ponomarev’

Russia in the Grip of Terror

Russia in the Grip of Terror

We rarely write about events in the North Caucasus, and we realize that this probably isn’t correct. Somehow, destruction of militant groups in places such as Aleppo in Syria seems to elicit a much greater response from us than the destruction of bandits in the Caucasus. This isn’t because we are indifferent to the fate of our homeland, but rather because we would like to avoid any harm that may be caused by an inappropriate comment or assessment of the situation. However, there are times when the chilly Caucasian breeze reaches our cozy armchairs, and we are forced to pay attention. Events that took place over the weekend were no exception.

Recent terrorist attacks in Ingushetia and Dagestan stand out from an unfortunately long chain of similar crimes as being particularly cynical. Alas, we are all too familiar with this breed of terror. It is a very distinguishing feature that sets the so-called “freedom fighters” of the never ending Arab Spring apart from their brothers in arms elsewhere: they backstab at a time and place where violence is prohibited by any religion, moral values and rules of war.

Unidentified assailants fired at a mosque congregation in the city of Khasavyurt in Dagestan, injuring 7 civilians and killing one person. The number of casualties could have been substantially higher if two of the bombs found later on site went off; fortunately this did not happen.

In Ingushetia, a bomber made his way into the funeral ceremony of a local policeman, Ilez Korigovym, who was earlier gunned down by unidentified bandits, and blew himself up in the crowd of mourners. Eight people were killed and another 15 seriously injured.

All of these attacks occurred in the midst of one of the most revered Muslim holidays – Eid al-Adha, marking the end of Ramadan. This reminded us of all the other similarly bitter stories we had reported on in the past: a bombing of a Shiite funeral procession in Iraq, shelling of a mosque in Syria, Islamist assaults on churches in Nigeria and Kenya, wedding executions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and so on. However, back then it all seemed far away and on the verge of being out of this world; terrible, to be sure, but also impersonal. But the swelling wave of terror in the Caucasus shows that the enemy is not even on our front porch. The enemy is already inside the house.

But forget the Caucasus for a moment. Just today a car was blown up in Kazan, pretty much the center of Russia. Fortunately, this happened in an unpopulated area, so there were no innocent casualties this time. Judging by the fact that remnants of three people, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and bits of religious literature were found within 50 meters from the blast site, the explosion was an unintentional accident. But who knows what could have happened had these people armed the bomb successfully? By the way, President Putin is scheduled to arrive in Kazan for Republic Day celebrations on August 30th. One can’t help but wonder whether this bomb blast was part of a planned “warm welcome” for the President? By the way, few people took notice, but responsibility for the recent attempted murder of the chief mufti of Tatarstan and his assistant was claimed by a group of religious extremists.

The situation is no better with Russia’s closest neighbors (in terms of geography and relationships). Kazakhstan continues to be shocked by a series of mysterious murders. After the shooting of 14 border guards at the Arkankergen outpost, another tragedy occurred in the Ile-Alatau park of Almaty, where 12 people were wantonly slaughtered under peculiar circumstances. This weekend Kazakh riot police destroyed a group of nine terrorists. Just weeks ago reports of terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan were unheard of, but now they are becoming so commonplace that you’d think it was the North Caucasus.

And the situation is nowhere close to being back to normal this week. On Monday a platoon of soldiers was shot at in Khasavyurt, and in Kabardino-Balkaria there was a failed attempt to assassinate the chief of criminal police. Come fall things will likely get even worse, because the link between terrorists and domestic opposition is growing every day. Parliament Deputy Ilya Ponomarev is proposing to create battle units capable of fighting in the streets. Alexander Belov, leader of the “Russians” movement, is taking this proposal a step further, offering to use the Egypt and Libya experience as a blueprint for government resistance. Can all this be a recipe to create a “Russian Aleppo?”

E. Super