Staunton, April 10 – Until recently, in the wake of any terrorist attack inside Russia, Russians focused their anger on the terrorists, Ruslan Gorevoy says; but after the bombing in St. Petersburg, they have shifted their fury against the powers that be which repeatedly have promised to defend them against terrorism but have proved incapable of doing so.
As Andrey Illarionov observed (aillarionov.livejournal.com/990006.html) in a commentary Gorevoy cites with approval, this marks a sea change in Russian attitudes and constitutes “the new reality” of political life in Russia, one that the powers can ignore only at their peril (https://versia.ru/pochemu-rossiyu-budut-vzryvat-i-dalshe).
Gorevoy argues that Russians have proven themselves to be incredibly “naïve,” accepting as true the authorities’ promises after each terrorist attack to prevent new ones only to have new outrages visited upon them because the powers that be have not taken the steps needed to guarantee the security that the population very much wants and deserves.
Americans have proven themselves much less naïve, he continues. They adopted the Patriot Act after the September 11 attacks, something no Russian government has done because they recognize that sometimes nations must give up some of their basic freedoms in order to defend their security.
Why hasn’t that happened in Russia? There are many reasons, Gorevoy says. He points in particular to Moscow’s failure to restrict immigration from Central Asia, a failure that reflects the fact that all too many in the Russian elites benefit from that influx even if it brings with it Islamist terrorism.
But ordinary Russians are beginning to understand that there is a problem with their own rulers, the Moscow commentator says. “If earlier the people by custom laid all blame for terrorist attacks on the terrorists themselves, then now many have begun to reflect” and to ask why those charged with defending them have failed to do so.
The Kremlin should recognize what that shift means. In Israel after Black September, Israelis turned on Golda Meir and forced her from office for inaction – even though she was extremely popular up to that point. Dmitry Medvedev doesn’t have that level of support now, Gorevoy says.
Russians need an American-style Patriot Act. Its provisions have meant that there have not been any major terrorist actions in the US since its adoption, Gorevoy points out. But there is little or no chance that such a measure will be adopted in Russia: too many powerful people benefit from not having such a measure in place.
The banks, for example, oppose its introduction because of the strict reporting requirements it would impose on them. Businessmen and officials who benefit from the use of gastarbeiters don’t want to lose their profits. And the government is doing little or nothing to explain why such a law would benefit Russians because it won’t benefit the elites.
What that means is both simple and tragic, Gorevoy concludes, as a result of official inaction, “Russia is going to be blown up again and again in the future.”