We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
US
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Christmas Presents

PUTIN’S OPPORTUNISM

Russia’s reaction to the St. Petersburg bombing is all about strengthening the president

POWER, for Vladimir Putin, has always been closely linked to terrorism. Back in 1999, as an unknown and untried prime minister, he first showed Russians his steely character after a series of unexplained bombings demolished four apartment buildings and killed over 300 people. Putin, in his trademark brand of clipped toughtalk, announced that those responsible would be “rubbed out, even if they’re in the outhouse,” and launched a renewed war against the breakaway republic of Chechnya. The resulting wave of approval, stoked by fear of terrorism, carried Putin to the presidency months later.

Eighteen years on and Putin has fulfilled his promise by rubbing out many thousands of extremists—with his army in Chechnya and all over the North Caucasus, via Federal Security Service (FSB) assassins in Turkey and Yemen, and most recently from the air and by the hand of special forces in Syria. What’s more, he has expanded the definition of extremists to include not just Islamist militants but also Ukrainian filmmakers and gay activists who share digitally altered images of Putin in garish makeup on social media. Nonetheless, as the deadly bombing in St. Petersburg’s metro on April 2 showed, neither violence nor repression has put an end to terrorist attacks in Russia.

Even as the 14 dead and at least 60 wounded were being stretchered out of the smokefilled Technology Institute metro station and bomb disposal experts carefully defused an unexploded second device, the usual conspiracy theories began to circulate. Murderous jihadis, of course, were most people’s default assumption. The St. Petersburg news site Fontanka showed closed-circuit TV images of a bearded Muslim in a skull cap leaving the station, naming him as a prime suspect. He “looks like he stepped right out of a poster for…ISIS,” fulminated columnist Denis Korotkov. Ilyas Nikitin was indeed a Muslim from Bashkortostan—but also a law-abiding reserve army captain and Chechnya veteran on the Russian side. Hard-line patriots were quick to blame Ukrainians or supporters of Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who brought some 60,000 protesters onto the streets of scores of Russian cities the previous weekend to protest against government sleaze. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, social media was buzzing with unsubstantiated theories that the bombing was a false-lag attack organized by the Russian state as a pretext for a renewed assault on Ukraine.

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Newsweek International - 21st April 2017
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - 21st April 2017
$4.99
Or 499 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 0.67 per issue
SAVE
87%
$33.99
Or 3399 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 0.94 per issue
SAVE
80%
$3.99
Or 399 points

View Issues

About Newsweek International

SPLITTING HEADACHE: IS FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY FIR TO TAKE ON TRUMP Many say FBI Director James Comey torpedoed the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton, and he may soon do the same for Donald Trump. As the bureau’s investigation of Russian interference in the election and the possible collusion of Trump’s camp builds toward a confrontation, America needs to know if their top G-man is a righteous warrior or a self-righteous prig.
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points