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After Moscow attack, Russians question Putin's war on terror

Russians are asking whether the repeated ability of jihadists from the turbulent northern Caucasus to strike at will in Moscow means that the country is losing its own war on terror.

By Correspondent / January 25, 2011

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (c.) and other Cabinet members observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of Monday's suicide bombing at Moscow's main airport, on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Putin is vowing retribution for the suicide bombing attack that killed at least 35 people in Russia's busiest airport.

Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/AP

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One day after a suicide bomber killed at least 35 people in Russia's busiest airport, Russians are asking whether the repeated ability of jihadists from the turbulent northern Caucasus to strike at will in Moscow means that the country is losing its own version of the war on terror.

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A few are even voicing the previously unthinkable suggestion that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin should resign, since he is the leader most closely associated with setting policy during the decade-long cycle of terrorism and brutal security countermeasures in the seething north Caucasus.

"We should urgently change our agenda, and insist that Putin and [Interior Minister Rashid] Nurgaliev come before the Duma [parliament] to explain themselves," says Vladimir Ulas, a Duma deputy with the Communist Party, which is usually loyal to the Kremlin on security issues. "The authorities have failed in the struggle against terrorism, they can not guarantee national security, so why shouldn't we be discussing the resignation of Putin's government?"

Experts say Russian authorities failed to heed the alarms set off by terror attacks in Russia's heartland over the past couple of years, including a deadly 2009 blast that hit a luxury train near St. Petersburg and a twin suicide bombing in Moscow's crowded metro last March that killed almost 40 people.

"It seems that we live from one terrorist assault to another," Igor Korotchenko, a former high-ranking security officer, told the independent Ekho Moskvi radio station Tuesday.

"When it happens, we see authorities react. They give instructions and order intensive antiterrorist operations, but it all comes to naught until we are shaken by the next explosive terrorist act," he said.

New wave of militants

Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, one leader of the new wave of Islamist militants who have supplanted the Chechen separatists of the past, claimed responsibility for the Moscow metro bombings and is widely cited as a suspect in Monday's Domodedovo blast.

Mr. Umarov is rumored to maintain a secret camp in the Caucasus Mountains for training female suicide bombers, known as "Black Widows," such as the two that struck in Moscow's metro last year.

But most Russian press coverage appears to agree that it was probably a male attacker who detonated the equivalent of 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) of TNT in Domodedovo's international arrivals area Monday, killing at least eight foreign citizens along with more than two dozen Russians.

Medvedev slams security measures

President Dmitry Medvedev slammed lax security measures and promised that the terrorists would be caught and punished. After canceling his plans to attend the Davos International Economic Forum, Mr. Medvedev decided to deliver his previously scheduled address on global economic reform on Wednesday, then return immediately to Moscow.

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