Just a day after the previous bombing and now this, anyone who has ever been on a trolleybus in Russia will know how packed they get. My prayers are with the dead, beyond that I reserve comment on the monstrous nature of these acts till I am somewhat calmer. All I will say is that Volgograd was once of course known as Stalingrad and the people there survived one of the bloodiest battles in human history and those who live there are rightfully proud of that aspect of their cities history and will not bow to terrorist scum.
This is absolutely horrific. Thankfully, Russian security has perhaps averted what could have been worse attacks.
Here is some additional information on yesterday’s terrorism in Volograd:
The Sunday blast, captured on a surveillance video camera from across the central plaza in front of the station, occurred near the station’s metal detectors, which have become a common security fixture at most of Russia’s transportation hubs. That raised the possibility that an attack deeper inside the station or aboard a train had been averted.
“Most likely, the victims could have been much higher if the so-called protective system had not stopped the suicide bomber from getting through the metal detectors into the waiting room, where there were passengers,” [Vladimir I. Markin, a spokesman for the main national criminal investigation agency] said in a statement on the agency’s website. *
Today’s attack, on a trolley, seems to also be directed at riders of mass transit. It killed indiscriminately, including at least one infant among the 15 (or more) dead.
The use of shrapnel-packed explosives against unsuspecting civilians reminds me of the Boston Marathon bombing. Weren’t the culprits in that also of Chechen origin, or at least they identified as Chechen?
Let’s just say this has naturally made many Russians very angry, my wife’s cousin served in the Chechen conflicts and had a serious mental breakdown afterwards. As my wife was raised in the same household as him growing up for much of their childhood she naturally feels quite angry about this whole situation and people are not thinking calmly right now just as they do not in any country after terrorist attacks.
Ironically I had some passing sympathy for Dudayev in the original Chechen war and his desire for independence, but he was not a fanatic guided by religious hatred and sadly he was soon pushed aside by those who were. There is nothing new in that as such groups have prolifierated in these areas for centuries and been problematic and many former Soviet republics which themselves have majority Muslim populations struggle to keep these elements from trying to import their ideologies and cause problems for them as well.
Many people in the West conveniently ignore the fact that in the 2nd Chechen War, more Chechens sided with so the so called tyrannical Russian government than the Jihadist forces.
Yes, I remember the reaction in the US after the Boston Marathon bombing. If such terrorism happened in the US as often as it does in Russia, most Americans would be enraged and support drastic actions. In fact, most Americans would probably demand drastic action.
What Russia is suffering through is intolerable.
I’ve lived in Russia and I know just how cynically planned this whole business was, this is a time of year where people are travelling to stay with relatives as new year is of huge importance there and the Russians are also waiting on the 7th of January which of course has huge importance for many Russians. The trolley buses in many Russian cities are crowded at all times because they offer a relatively cheap way to travel. One of the dead on that trolley bus was an eight month old baby, tempers are running very high at the moment. Given the importance of Volgograd in Russian history (remember this city was called Stalingrad for a time and we all know what happened there) I am sure the attacks here are cynically motivated to try and take a slap a the Russian people in one of their cities which has become a symbol in history of resistance. I assure them they will not succeed and they may scare or terrify the Russian people for a time but no-one will bow to them. I am not feeling charitable at the moment so all I will say further is the picture below is Mamayev Kurgan which is a monument to those who died during the Battle of Stalingrad. Let’s just say I will shed no tears if the sword the figure is holding descends on those who threaten the Russian people.
Is there something going on in Russia that would prompt this new wave of terrorist attacks? (and since you are clearly upset about this, let me be clear that I’m not implying that Russians somehow deserve such attacks or caused them. Terrorists are always trying to justify their acts by actions of the victims and I know little to nothing about what is going on in Russia.)
One particular individual connected with the events in Dagestan/Checyna and that region generally has been urging Islamists to use maximum force. There has been a crackdown on the Islamic fundamentalists in recent months and due to a large number of incidents involving heavy loss of life such as the Moscow airport bombing, Beslan siege and numerous other events patience is very thin and people want a firm hand applied to quash these groups. I personally support the justice minister who has put forward proposals that family members found to have covered up or abetted terrorists should also be given lengthy jail sentences, possibly including life imprisonment. My wife who is quite angry (and reasonably so as her grandfather participated in the fighting in this area of Russia in the Great Patriotic Wat) lost her temper in an uncharacteristic manner and growled out that Stalin had the right idea about the Chechens and that they should all be deported again as they were under him and got rid of. She said that in a moment of anger and regretted it a few moments later but there are people in Russia who really are that fed up of the whole constant situation who would support that for real right now as for several centuries religious fanaticism and blood feuding has been a hallmark of the region. Foreign funding of the more extreme Islamist groups is an ongoing major issue also.
There was a news report with a Chechen policeman I watched on the BBC where although he is a a Muslim himself he said the culture of the Chechen people has become degraded due to these people and constant interference from Wahabist and Salafist groups from abroad who irritate the situation more. There were several examples of people blowing up shops that dared to sell alcohol openly in that program by putting explosive on the counter or around the shop and giving people scant time to leave the premises.
Doku Umarov has been mentioned as the possible culprit behind the Volgograd bombings. Here is a brief background on him:
*The investigation into the bombings is just getting underway, but the attention of the Russian security services is already focused on the republic of Dagestan, which has become the hub of Muslim separatist violence in recent years, and on connections to the insurgent leader, Doku Umarov. He is a mysterious, almost mythical figure who fought in both Chechnya wars, which began nearly two decades ago and have come to symbolize the radicalization of a movement that began as a struggle for independence.
Mr. Umarov’s influence had seemed to be waning in recent years, until he surfaced in a video in July, ordering his followers to do whatever was possible to attack Russia as it prepared to be the host of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Volgograd, Mr. Umarov’s threats, largely ignored at the time, suddenly seemed ominous, chillingly citing Russia’s transportation networks as potential targets. *
*Mr. Umarov was crushed after the second war in Chechnya by Mr. Putin’s defiant refusal to negotiate with fighters he dismissed as terrorists. In response, he repurposed himself as a proponent of global jihad, declaring himself the tactical and inspirational leader of a Caucasus Emirate that few people in the region embrace. Then, in July, he issued his manifesto on the Sochi Games. *
However, in past bombings Umarov or his organization were quick to claim responsibility for an attack. So far, no one has done so and other potential culprits exist.
A key question is whether the Volgograd bombings are the start of a wave of attacks, intended to deter visitors to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. If not, then perhaps these attacks won’t be followed up very quickly. But if so, then more attacks can be expected over the coming weeks and these attacks will likely escalate in their intensity, as well as frequency.