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Putin’s Way: 15 years of terrorist acts, catastrophes, and war in Russian history

Putin’s Way: 15 years of terrorist acts, catastrophes, and war in Russian history remembers the greatest catastrophes during Putin’s presidency: disasters which shook not only Russia, but also the entire world

Today, August 9th, is the 15th anniversary of the day Vladimir Putin took over the reigns of the Russian Federation. He became known to Russia for the first time back in 1999, when Boris Yeltsin appointed him to be his successor.

The current Russian president had previously been head of the FSB [Federal Security Service], but regular Russians knew nothing about him. However, having ended up on top of the political Olympus 15 years ago, Vladimir Putin has never left it. Meanwhile, Putin’s ratings continually grow by the hour.

Starting in 1999, he managed to become the president of Russia twice and twice he occupied the post of Prime Minister. It is noteworthy that all 15 years of his rule are marred by a series of terrorist acts and industrial and aviation catastrophes. It was during Putin’s reign that the term “black August” came to be. remembers the greatest catastrophes to occurr in Russia during Putin’s rule. Additionally, during these 15 years: the second Chechen War began, also the conflict in South Ossetia, the war in Georgia and, finally, Putin annexed Crimea and initiated armed aggression in Donbas.

The mass terrorist acts of 1999

On September 4, 1999 a car bomb explosion resulted in the collapse of two apartment blocks in the Dagestan town of Buynaksk, on September 8th a 9-story-building in Moscow was blown up on Guryanov street, on September 13 an explosion occurred on Kashirskoye road, on September 16 a truck exploded in Volgodonsk, affecting a 9-story-building. The series of terrorist acts claimed more than 300 lives.

A month had passed since the invasion of Dagestan by Chechen mercenaries, as a result of which Putin had been appointed acting Prime Minister. The Russian government accused Islamists of perpetrating the terrorist attacks.

One version of the story is that it was after this series of terrorist attacks that the ratings of the then almost unknown Putin began to grow. He was presented to the Russian people as a fighter against terrorism. “We will pursue the terrorists everywhere,” Putin said back then. “At the airport – then, at the airport. Excuse me, but we will catch them in the toilet and kill them there, in the end.” Since then “killing in the toilet” has become one Putin’s most famous expressions.

The death of “Kursk” 

On September 12, 2000 The K-141 nuclear submarine “Kursk” sank during Russian naval fleet training in the Barents Sea. According to official data, a torpedo explosion occurred inside the submarine, which had been launched in May 1994, due to fuel leakage. A fire that broke out two minutes after the initial explosion caused torpedoes in the first compartment of the submarine to detonate.

A second explosion caused even more significant destruction. This resulted in the deaths of all 118 crew members. The search and recovery operation completed a year later uncovered 115 bodies of the fallen sailors. “Kursk” had been considered the best submarine in the Northern fleet.


November 23-26, 2002. The tragedy occurred in the Moscow Theater Center in Dubrovka. A group of gunmen took the audience of the “Nord-Ost” musical hostage, as well as the theater staff. After almost three days the building was stormed, the terrorists were eliminated, and the hostages who had miraculously survived were freed. This terrorist act resulted in the death of 130 hostages.

According to the reports published by investigators, preparations for the terrorist act began in October 2002, when explosives and weapons were delivered to Moscow from Chechnya by car. The terrorist act was planned back in the summer of 2002 at the council of Chechen field commanders.

The terrorist attack in Beslan

September 1-3, 2004. On September 1, 2004, the world was shaken by news that terrorists had occupied a school building in the North Ossetia town of Beslan. The occupation happened during the [first day of school] celebrations. The gunmen took over a thousand people hostage, including children and their parents. The school was stormed on the third day, September 3.

334 people died, including 186 children and 13 law enforcement officers. Any attempts at constructive dialogue with the terrorists about releasing hostages without the use of force turned out to be unsuccessful.

The explosion at “Ulyanovskaya” mine

March 19, 2007. An accident at the “Ulyanovskaya” mine in Kemerovo oblast took the lives of 110 people. 93 miners were saved. The Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological, and Nuclear Supervision announced that “blatant violations of security measures” occurred at the mine.

Oblast governor Aman Tuleyev stated that, on the day of the tragedy, they were setting up equipment designed to detect and localize gas leaks at the mine. Almost the entire leadership of the mine went underground to check the system and died in the explosion.

The disaster at the Sayano-Shushensk Hydroelectric Power Plant

August 17, 2009. The Sayano-Shushensk hydroelectric plant, largest in Russia and the sixth largest in the world, was shut down on August 17 when water started leaking into the equipment room. Three out of ten hydro turbines were completely destroyed, the rest were damaged.

The biggest hydroelectric disaster in the history of Russia and Soviet electricity caused the deaths of 75 people. The committee of the Russian State Duma that investigated the reasons for the disaster named about 20 plant workers which they deemed responsible for the tragedy.

The tragedy in the “Lame Horse”

December 5, 2009.  In terms of victim count, the largest fire in the history of post-Soviet Russia occurred in the Perm nightclub “Lame Horse.” According to the investigation, it began during a pyrotechnic show when sparks came in contact with a ceiling made out of dry wood and caused a fire. A stampede immediately began at the club, and as a result not all were able to escape.

The fire at “Lame Horse” caused the deaths of 156 people and several dozen received burns of various degrees. In connection with the incident a number of fire department officials were dismissed and the entire government of Perm Krai resigned.

The terrorist attack in the Moscow metro

March 29, 2010. On this tragic day, two suicide bombers from Dagestan caused separate explosions at the Lubyanka and Park of Culture stations on the Sokolnitskaya line of the Moscow metro.

41 people died in the explosions. The victims included citizens of Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Israel and Malaysia. The leader of the “Caucasus Emirate” Doku Umarov assumed responsibility for the explosions.

The plane crash in Smolensk

April 10, 2010. The presidential Tu-154 plane of the Polish air force crashed during its landing at the “Smolensk-North” airport. Everyone on board died in the crash – 88 passengers and 8 crew members. Among them was the Polish President Lekh Kachinsky, his wife Maria Kachinska, famous Polish politicians, almost the entire high military commandment, and civic and religious activists.

This was the highest casualty airplane crash among those that caused the death of a head of state. President Kachinsky was headed to Russia on a private visit to the head of the Polish delegation to commemorate the seventy-year anniversary of the shooting of Polish officers in Katynsky forest. According to official reports, the plane crashed while landing due to thick fog.

The sinking of “Bulgaria” ship

July 10, 2011. The two-deck diesel-electrical ship “Bulgaria” sank within three kilometers of the shore while heading from the town of Bolgar to Kazan. The main reason of the disaster was that the crew did not close the portholes and water entered the ship when it tipped while turning due to wind.

According to final data, out of 201 people onboard, only 79 were saved. The deaths of another 122 have been confirmed. The victims included the captain of the ship, Alexandr Ostrovsky. One fourth of the passengers were children.

The terrorist attack in “Domodedovo” 

January 24, 2011. An explosion in the international terminal at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport was caused by a suicide bomber. The power of the explosive was equivalent to about 7 kilograms of TNT. The bomb was filled with metal shrapnel, possibly pieces of wire.

37 people died as a result of the attack, among which was Ukrainian writer from Odesa Hanna Yablonsk. Doku Umarov, the head of “Imarat Caucasus” assumed responsibility. The suicide bomber at the airport was 20-year-old Ingushetiya-born Megomed Yevloyev.

Accident in the Moscow metro

July 15, 2014. Three metro train cars went off the rails between the stations at Victory Park and Slavyanskiy Boulevard on the Arbat-Pokrovskaya line. 23 people died.

The final story on the train accident was bad rail conditions and low-quality repair work. The crash has been deemed the biggest industrial disaster in the Moscow underground.

[hr]Source: TSN
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina, edited by Elizabeth Martin

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