Rescuers digging for survivors after bombing of an apartment building on Kashira Road in Moscow, Russia, 13 September 1999. This and other similar terror acts in Russia were used by Putin to start another war in Chechnya. According to former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko murdered by his former FSB colleagues in London and other experts, the FSB conducted the bombings on Putin's orders to boost his election chances. (Image: Wikipedia)
The one constant of Vladimir Putin’s time in office, the exploitation of terrorist incidents to impose tighter control on Russian society and to boost his own power, must be recognized, condemned and resisted both at home and abroad, according to two prominent Moscow commentators.
Any leader of a country can be expected to impose tighter security in the wake or even given the threat of terrorist actions, but Putin has set himself apart by his exploitation of that accepted pattern by taking actions that do less to prevent any new attacks than to promote his own power – and that is the case whether or not he was the organizer of any of them.
In a comment for the Forum-MSK portal, Yakov Azimandis writes that “the single stable thing which has occurred throughout the entire Putin period are terrorist actions” in Russia, despite his claims to have brought stability and security to its population.
Putin’s modus operandi is to frighten defectors and members of the elite with “targeted political murders” and to fright the masses with “terrorist actions,” Azimandis says. He may but does not have to organize them because for such actions it is always possible to find “free radicals” who are prepared to do so.
What matters is that each terrorist incident, the analyst continues, is “an occasion for the further toughening of control and increasing the authority of the siloviki and a means of uniting the people around the leader with the help of sacred victims,” much in the same way that human sacrifice gave primitive peoples “a certain illusion of catharsis” by uniting their participants.–
“If there weren’t these human sacrifices,” Azimandis continues, “would the leader have been able to maintain himself until now?” The answer is “no” because such sacrifices alone give the leader “new powers and strengthen his legitimacy.” The problem is that with each repetition, such sacrifices become less effective as people begin to see what it happening.
They are becoming tired “even not from the deception involved but from the fact that it is necessary to give the impression that you believe in this latest lie from the screen.” That is why, he suggests, the main message of the latest protests is that the authorities must stop lying and being hypocritical.
The Russian people have already given up freedom in change first for well-being and then for security. What they have given up is gone, but “where is the security?” And they are beginning to organize on their own and ask questions about the powers that be that the powers can’t answer.
After this terrorist action, the authorities have shown their “bankruptcy.” Instead of immediately launching into a powerful counterattack, they worked first and foremost to “defend themselves,” asking people not to believe those who say the leader is manipulating the situation.
That is, Azimandis continues, “while playing in this field with their accustomed instruments, the authorities unexpectedly suffered if not a defeat then at least proved that they couldn’t outplay their opponents.” As a result, the St. Petersburg events undermined the image of the powers that be and led to “the latest crack in the Kremlin wall.”
“People have ceased to see in Moloch a defender,” he concludes. “They see in him simply a wooden idol covered with dried blood and flies. And that means that in a short time they will throw him in the river.”
In the second, Vladimir Kardail is even more blunt: he says that world leaders should be offering their sympathies not just to the direct victims of the terrorist action as they have done but to the Russian people who clearly have “fallen under the boot of a corporation of siloviki, bureaucrats and bandits who have usurped power.
This power began its rule with the apartment bombings in 1999 and has not stopped at any crime to maintain its power. Now, after the March 26 protests and the long-haul truckers’ strike, it is frightened of losing power and so has gone back to its “’tried and true’ measures” of outrageous lies and violence.
But the actions of the corporation now ruling Russia in the case of the St. Petersburg bombing show that it is completely “bankrupt” and “is working not for out security but against it. Not for the first time, the powers are using terrorist acts – whoever committed them – for its own purposes” that have nothing to do with the security of the population.
“The earth must burn under the feet of such ‘powers,’” he says. The people must not wait until the next elections: they must devote all their efforts to “overthrow the usurpers.” And despite what some think, there are many things they can do. Kardail offers a list of seven suggestions:
- Boycott the authorities because they have been illegitimate since the fake elections of 1996.
- Don’t have any contacts with is leaders or appeal to them. To do otherwise is “shameful.”
- Don’t be afraid to speak out against the crimes of Putin’s corporation. When there are “dozens” of Voronenkovs,” the authorities won’t be able to save their own skin by shooting them all.
- All opposition groups must cooperate to bring in to the streets the greatest possible number of protesters against this regime.
- Don’t play by the authorities’ “’rules of the game.’” By violating them, Russians may be able to save Russia.
- Foreign leaders must stop dealing with Putin and his associates as if they were leaders of a normal state. All of these leaders must recognize that “the power of the corporation [in Russia] is fascism by definition.” Leaders now say they wouldn’t have dealt with Hitler in the 1930s. Why are they dealing with his revenants now?
- All means are suitable in this situation. “Let each think for himself” what to do.
- Will Petersburg terrorist act stabilize or destabilize Russia?
- Five reasons Putin has lost the younger generation forever
- 15 years on, suspicions about Putin’s involvement in apartment bombings linger in Russia
- Three lessons from the Kremlin murders
- Putin heats the water hotter for the frog
- Should Russia expect more terrorist attacks?