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Write off and forget
Written by ,   
, 28 2011
A year after the terrorist attack in the Moscow subway
A year ago, on, March 29th, 2010, blasts at the Lubyanka and Park Kultury subway stations took the lives of 40people, and injured 88. Dmitry Medvedev laid flowers at the site of the tragedy. Prosecutor General Chaika took the investigation of the case under special control, while politicians and bureaucrats vied with each other to propose new measures to fight terrorism. Allof this is the standard program worked out by the authorities following any major tragedy in order to reassure citizens and show them: “We’re on the job and we care about your safety.” For a week the state television channels reported on how much compensation the victims would be paid, what programs were to be set up, and they aired threatening speeches. Thenthe tragedy moved to second place in “electoral significance” (as the Kremlin puts it), and the media no longer brings it up. Justlike every year, when together every TV channel fails to note the anniversary of the Beslan tragedy.
Citizens may, at some point, even believe the authorities, but shortly after the signing of a PR-significant presidential decree on the establishment of a new transportation security system, a suicide bomber blew himself up at Domodedovo airport. Newcorpses, and a new tragedy unfolds while the government works out its scenario: lay flowers, ominously shake a fist at the camera, then lather up and remove from the information field any report on this latest failure. Doeverything possible to ensure that we quickly forget about the incident and return to our world of fairy tales, in which the news of the day is a meeting by some modernization commission.
On the anniversary of the terrorist attack in the Moscow subway, ‘The New Times’ learned what became of those who suffered in the explosions, and found that even today there is nothing to stop a terrorist from traveling from Makhachkala to Moscow with a deadly cargo. Thenewspaper also conducted an audit of transport nodes where, following the explosion at Domodedovo, they were supposedly once again increasing security in the fight for our safety.
“After the terrorist attack, Ireconsidered my attitude towards friends, relatives and loved ones. Idiscovered a new taste for life, and an interest in it. Ithelped that every day Ikept getting fresh flowers at the hospital from friends,” smiled 19-year-old Asmik Martirosyan a year after the terrorist attack in the Moscow subway. Sherecalled how, on that morning, March 29th, 2010, she was riding the Red Arrow to classes. Asmik is a student at the College of International Relations and Social and Political Sciences at Moscow State Linguistic University. Shesaid that when the explosion occurred, she was saved by a leather bag she had on her lap: her legs were left intact, while the student “got off” with only shrapnel wounds to her chest.
Compensation after half a year
Asmik Martirosyan said that her school treated her with compassion in her hour of need, as she has always been a student in good standing. Theuniversity was the first to help the injured girl financially: “The University provided me 40thousand rubles (about$1,500). Itwas hardly a day after the terrorist attack when Igot a call from the dean’s office that the money had been transferred to my account.” “The government promised compensation within a few weeks, but they didn’t pay until early September,” said the student. “Why try to deceive people like this? Ididn’t need the money, but they were saying one thing and doing another. Theytold us the delay was because the Investigation Committee found a lot of people claiming to be injured in the terrorist attack. Theywere paying 200thousand rubles (about$7,500).” According to Martirosyan, shortly after the tragedy the Moscow city government, then still headed by Yuri Luzhkov, paid its own individual compensation: victims were given 80thousand rubles each (about$3,000), plus 10thousand rubles (about$380) compensation for damaged property. “For a few months Igot regular calls from the district prefecture. Theywere more interested in me than anyone else was. Theyoffered the assistance of the district psychologist, and found out if Ineeded anything from the region,” said Martirosyan. “I refused everything, because Ididn’t want to exploit their trust.”
39-year-old Vladislav Martiyanov confirmed her story. OnMarch 29th, he was standing on the platform at the Park Kultury subway station, waiting for a train. Thecars pulled up, the doors opened, and then the explosion. Vladislav got a concussion, and doctors diagnosed partial hearing loss. “Two or three months after the explosion money came in from Luzhkov, and at six months from the state,” said Martiyanov. “I got free treatments, and if Ihad to wait for the money, well, Ididn’t really wait that hard. Myfather taught me: In a tough situation you can only count on yourself. Sothat’s how Iacted. Ididn’t get any benefits what benefits? Iprobably should have filed for disability for my hearing loss, and could still apply for disability for the concussion, but Idon’t feel disabled.”
Shaking the air
A year after the explosion in the subway, and especially after the explosion at Domodedovo airport, one can say that the security officials’ rants about “strengthening control” and “additional security measures” such as Dmitry Medvedev demanded during a meeting immediately after the terrorist attack were empty words. Onecan argue about the effectiveness of such measures, but no one has seriously considered Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov’s proposal to restore the death penalty for terrorism, or Deputy Speaker of Parliament Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ideas: he declared the need for a system of electronic surveillance, as well as fingerprint and DNA databases of all Russians. Alsoignored was a statement by the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency on the need to strengthen security measures at airports, with special attention given to “prevent unauthorized intrusion into security areas at airports.” Finally, on March 31st, Medvedev signed a decree, titled: “On the creation of an integrated system of public transportation safety.” The system is to be set up before January 1st, 2014. Itwas not specified as to whether one could assume that terrorists might easily blow up any object in the transport infrastructure until January 1st, 2014. Inany case, only after the attack at Domodedovo did the president instruct Rashid Nurgaliyev to “shake up” the transportation police to make it provide daily supervision of security. Later he went down inside a Moscow subway station, where he was shown a camera that shines X-rays at passengers, a baggage screening belt, and special containers for isolating bombs. Justas soon as the president returned to the surface, however, the experimental equipment was pushed into a corner.
Tandem-seer
“I’m certain that the police will do their best to find and punish the criminals. Theterrorists will be destroyed,” promised Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. President Medvedev, standing with a bouquet of flowers at the Lubyanka subway station, practically repeated the words of his senior comrade in the tandem: “These are simply animals, and regardless of what motives they were guided by, what they’re doing is a crime under any law and on the basis of any morality. Ihave no doubt: we will find every one of them and destroy them.”
Since the Russian law enforcement agencies almost have no idea how to competently conduct investigations and prove the guilt of suspects in court, and our history knows of no high-profile trial of any terrorist attack organizers, the public is left only with the satisfaction of hearing reports about the destruction of alleged militants who were allegedly were connected with the blasts in the subway. Already on April 27th, 2010, RIA ‘Novosti’ reported on the elimination of a militant in the Khasavyurt district of Dagestan, who was allegedly involved in the bombings on the subway. OnJune 4th, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov reported that some thugs from a group under the head of the Dagestan militant underground, Magomedali Vagabov, were involved in the tragedy and had been destroyed during a raid. OnAugust 21st, the Information Center of the National Antiterrorism Committee reported on the liquidation of Vagabov himself, who was now named as the organizer of the terrorist attacks.
So, they promised to destroy, and they destroyed. Itonly remains for the public to believe that the dead were really involved in the terrorist attacks (although their guilt was never proven by an investigation and no judicial decision was ever made), and hope that the destroyed militants do not “rise from the dead,” as has repeatedly happened with field commanders in Chechnya. Itis enough to recall Doku Umarov, who has survived destruction, as reported by law enforcement, at least seven times.
Although it is true that on July 13th, 2010, the state television channels reported another special operation in Dagestan, during which six women were reportedly arrested while preparing to become suicide bombers, and two militants, one of which had supposedly escorted suicide bombers Mariam Sharipova and Janet Abdurakhmanova from Khasavyurt to Moscow. Thedetainees allegedly even started making confessions, but since then there have been no reports on their fate, or the imminent start of a trial against them.
Short memory
The investigation of any high-profile crime, whether a terrorist attack, the killing of a public or political figure, or a catastrophe that occurred not as a result of a natural disaster, is taken under special control of the President, the Attorney General, or the Minister of Interior. Ifthe Kremlin sees the crime as not resonating too loudly with the public, yet too awkward to hush up, it orders the appropriate law enforcement official to get to the bottom of it. Eachof these events gets on the TV news and becomes an occasion for public relations by those in power, but they are almost never converted into judicial verdicts. Ifa crime has a connection to the Caucasus, the matter usually ends up, as in the case of the subway terrorist attacks, with a statement about the destruction of the guilty parties. Suchwas the case with an attempted assassination of the President of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in 2009. Dmitry Medvedev took personal control of the case, and the organizer of the crime was supposedly killed. Thesame fate befell the organizers of the terrorist attack on the police precinct building in Nazran in 2009that killed 25: the president also took its investigation under his control. Medvedev instructed the head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, to take all necessary measures to investigate the murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova and the crime remains unsolved. Thehead of state gave instructions to Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and FSB director Alexander Bortnikov to get to the bottom of the derailment of the Nevsky Express. Thelaw enforcers reported the case solved, and that the perpetrators were from the Kartoyev brothers gang and headed by Alexander Tikhomirov (Said Buryat). Members of the gang were also destroyed.
The president’s attention was also attracted to such tragedies as the deaths in jail of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and businesswoman Vera Trifonova. Theresult of Medvedev’s orders was that investigators working on the case of the Hermitage Fund lawyer (Magnitsky), Natalya Vinogradova and Oleg Silchenko, received departmental awards, while Investigator Sergei Pysin, engaged in Trifonova case, was suspended for a time, though recently returned to duty. Itis probably better to not even remember stories concerning an automobile accident on Lenin Prospect involving the LUKoil VP Anatoly Barkov, corruption in the procurement of medical equipment that was uncovered in October 2010, or Kushchev district police investigator Yelena Rogoza’s video message to the president on how the investigation into the Sergei Tsapko gang was really being conducted. Inthe first case the accident was blamed on the dead women, while in the second, though a criminal case has been brought, it is for negligence, and no suspects were named. Inthe third story, Rogoza was accused of involvement in a gang that terrorized a village for many years. Already in 2011, Dmitry Medvedev drew attention to the scandal of suburban Moscow prosecutors providing a protection racket for illegal underground casinos and arcades. Theresults: all prosecutors who were temporarily dismissed from their positions during the investigation have returned to work.
The authorities never miss a chance work their PR during tragedies, or turn major scandals to their favor, but this neither makes the law enforcement system more effective, nor the lives of citizens safer. Thecalculation is always one and the same: a short memory. Theycount on no one remembering it a year later: what was said and what was promised has turned into a void.
By Ilya Barabanov and Yegor Mostovshchikov
March 28th, 2011
In 'The New Times'

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