Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Deadly Blast Comes at Sensitive Time for Russia

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MOSCOW — A suicide bomber attacked Moscow’s busiest airport on Monday, killing dozens of people and injecting new pain into a country already split along ethnic lines. There was no indication on Monday night of who was behind the blast. Past terrorist attacks have been traced to militants in the North Caucasus, a predominantly Muslim region in the south of Russia. And the city was on edge even before the attacks, after ethnic Russian nationalists lashed out violently at migrants from the troubled region in mid-December.

The attack inflicted a deep injury on Moscow’s image just as President Dmitri A. Medvedev prepared to woo foreign investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The bomb — set off in the international arrivals hall of Domodedovo, the city’s glittering showcase airport — killed and wounded visitors from the West, something that has occurred very rarely in previous terrorist attacks.

But Russians were too shocked Monday night to focus on the implications.

The smoke was so thick after the blast that it was hard to count the dead. Hours later arriving passengers stepped into the hall to see the wounded still being loaded onto stretchers. Ambulances sped away crowded with three or four patients apiece, bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds. By nightfall, officials reported that at least 35 people had been killed and 168 wounded.

“They pushed them away on baggage carts,” said Aleksei Spiridonov, who works at an auto rental booth a few yards from the site of the blast. “They were wheeling them out on whatever they could find.”

Russia’s leaders have struggled, with a good measure of success, to keep militants from the North Caucasus from striking in the heartland. In March, two female suicide bombers detonated themselves on the city’s subway, killing more than 40 people — an act that the Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov claimed to have ordered, promising Russians that “the war will come to your streets.” Mr. Umarov’s organization also took responsibility for the bombing of a luxury train, the Nevsky Express, which killed 28 in November 2009.

Monday’s attack could also have political implications, coming after a period of tentative liberalization. In the past, such attacks have strengthened the influence of Russian security forces and Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin by firmly establishing security as the country’s top priority.

The bomber apparently entered the international arrivals terminal from outside, advancing to the cordon where taxi drivers and relatives wait to greet arriving passengers. The area is open to the general public, said Yelena Galanova, an airport spokeswoman, according to the Interfax news service. Read more in The New York Times.

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Written by Theophyle

January 25, 2011 at 9:40 am

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