Terror wave in Russia

TWO BACK-TO-BACK blasts in the volatile Russian north could have far-reaching ramifications. There are fears that Moscow’s big-ticket event, the winter Olympics in Sochi, could be affected if the violence continues.

There was the recent suicide bombing on a trolleybus in Volgograd that killed at least 12 people, and it came close on the heels of a similar attack at the central train station in the city claiming 17 more lives. These acts of terrorism could have been executed by any group with any political shade, including the militant outfits in the region as well as individual activists who nurse severe grievances against the powers that be in Kremlin. It is also to be kept in mind that the blasts have come months after the leader of a Chechen separatist group pledged to disrupt the 2014 winter games through violence. So that probability has to be kept under consideration as well. That is why the authorities should carefully study the pattern of terrorism in all these instances and desist from jumping to conclusions.

There are serious socio-political differences as far as holding the games is concerned. The Vladimir Putin government was accused of human rights violations, which indicated that some world leaders could be boycotting the event, especially US President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Francois Hollande. The fact that President Putin tried to address the concerns of his opponents by signing a decree that freed almost 20,000 political prisoners, including 19 Greenpeace activists and punk band Pussy Riot’s two members, and pardoned jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a welcome development. Now the need of the hour for Kremlin is to beef up vigilance and make the sporting event a success. With no group having claimed responsibility for the attacks, the authorities should move on to normalise the situation and avoid any witch-hunt which would inevitably lead to further polarisation in the already divided Russian society. It’s time for Russia to live up to the expectations of the sporting community and the world at large that is eagerly waiting to cheer its stars at Sochi and hail the new one born there. There should be no distraction at a time when Russians are trying to open up their society to the outside world. At the same time, Putin should look into the political storm that is brewing in Russia’s neighbourhood, especially Ukraine, and assess if the upheavals have any links with the undercurrents back home. The new spate of unrest in Russia could possibly have realpolitik linkages.

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