Chechen terrorist issues stark video warning to Russians
Russia's most wanted terrorist, Chechen Doku Umarov, warned Muscovites of an upcoming wave of suicide assaults. His video comes just two weeks after a suicide attack at Domodedovo airport.
(Page 2 of 2)
"For Doku Umarov, it's clearly important to be seen as a leading figure in the global jihad, someone who can threaten the Kremlin. He seems determined to proceed, to keep sending people to strike Moscow," he says.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Russian attitudes hardening
The Domodedovo attack has led to a hardening of attitudes among Russians, who appear increasingly resigned to an ongoing terror assault as a fact of life rather than a problem that might be solved politically.
A poll released last week by the independent Levada Center in Moscow found that after the Moscow metro bombing last March, 53 percent of Russians nationwide saw terrorism as a consequence of the 15-year war against separatist and Islamist insurgents in the North Caucasus.
Following the Domodedovo attack, only 41 percent thought so, while 28 percent blamed "international terrorist conspiracy" – markedly up from 19 percent less than a year ago.
"A plurality of respondents still link terrorism to the war in Chechnya, but they do not go so far as to explicitly connect it to the policies of [former president and current prime minister Vladimir] Putin," says Denis Volkov, a researcher with the Levada Center. "Perhaps this is because this subject is not broached in the mass media, and groups that analyze the situation in these terms do not have the media access that would enable them to make it part of the public discussion."
Mr. Volkov says more than half of respondents now see terrorism as something that they'll just have to learn to live with.
"More people support the authorities' version of the origins of terrorism, and increasingly see Islamist terrorism as Russia's enemy. We see this feeling that the problem cannot be solved as a factor that's contributing to uncertainty, tension, and aggression in society. When added to other existing social, ethnic, and economic realities, this could make for a very dangerous combination," he says.
Thousands of Russian soccer fans went on a violent, racially tinged rampage in Moscow last December after a Russian fan of the Moscow soccer team Spartak was killed in a fight with immigrants from the North Caucasus.
"Growing xenophobia is one of the consequences we see," as people adjust to the onslaught of terrorism, says Andrei Kolesnikov, opinion editor of the opposition weekly Novaya Gazeta. "People aren't blaming political leaders, but increasingly they fear Caucasians and non-Russians as the carriers of the terror threat."
The public mood has been aggravated by a recent wave of false terror alerts, most the work of hoaxers, who have sent emergency services scrambling with dozens of credible but false bomb threats to marketplaces, railroad stations, metro lines, and airports.
"In January alone, we had 42 false alarms, which is a record number," says Ilgam Kurmanov, head of the Moscow's police's sapper [bomb disposal] department.