On December 5, in Yessentuki in the Stavropol Territory in Southern Russia near Chechnya, there was another terrorist attack. The terrorists bombed a commuter train, killing over 40 people and injuring more that 120.
Several leads are being examined. The main lead - and it is being examined by investigation first of all - is that Chechen militants on orders from Shamil Basayev, a well-known terrorist, carried out the attack. A few days before the attack, Basayev made hostile statements and threats on a Web site. He threatened everyone, including Chechens living in Moscow, trying to make them leave the Russian capital.
These statements were insulting and humiliating.
Another lead, which cannot be completely ruled out is that this happened on the eve of the elections of the heads of a number of Russian regions and the deputies of the State Duma (December 7). Those who ordered the terrorist act could pursue the aim of intimidating the population of Southern Russia and frustrating elections there in order to show that the situation in Russia, especially in its southern regions, is unstable.
Lastly, the third lead is linked with "the tendency", which appeared in Russia recently, to settle accounts with one's political opponents by staging terrorist acts. Considering that elections were drawing near, this lead should not be ignored either. However, the December terrorist act bears a strong resemblance to the bombing of another commuter train in the Stavropol territory - on September 3 this year. It left four dead and 50 injured.
It is difficult to speak about the leads of the terrorist act in greater detail - let investigation do this. However, one can already draw some conclusions without waiting for its results.
The impression is that Russia, like Israel, is "being conditioned" to terrorist attacks. In Israel, it has already become customary for every resident to take note of all suspicious things and immediately react to them. In Russia, people often believe in the "off chance." It is hardly correct. The whole population, not just the security services, must be on their guard to prevent a tragedy. It is not a matter of everyone informing on everyone, but all should be vigilant. Russia has not learned this yet.
Another conclusion is that terrorism is the most dangerous problem of our time. Certainly, terrorists must be eliminated. It is equally important to end the social problems that produce the "human material" for terrorist acts. One problem is the high unemployment rate among young people, which, in the case of Russia, is widespread in the southern regions. The continued violent re-division of property, like in Dagestan (a Caspian republic in the North Caucasus), where property has been divided by explosives and weapons for many years, also fosters terrorism.
Can the threat of terrorist acts be fully eliminated? I think that this question is absurd because for this, the world needs to do away with corruption and crime, something that even such powerful states as the USA cannot do.
However, if law-enforcement agencies cannot destroy the mafia, they can well establish control over it. Criminals - not doers - organize attacks to make money. They should not be allowed to have their way. Russia needs the experience of the United States, Japan and China, which have learned to effectively freeze the finances of criminal groups.
Lastly, there is one important point, which has long been worrying me: Can those who commit terrorist acts in Russia be equated with members of the Chechen opposition who have not laid down their arms and are resisting federal forces? I think that there is some truth in the question so posed. But members of the Chechen opposition cannot be fully equated with terrorists.
Many people in the Chechen opposition have taken up arms because they have failed to find a niche in peaceful life, or are avenging family members and friends who died in combat operations and security sweeps. They are not terrorists. Most want to return to a peaceful life and the way to it should not be closed for them.
Many terrorists are brainwashed and do not know what they are doing. They are told: "Here are your enemies, they are responsible for your problems, kill them!" Some, unfortunately, believe this lie. These people are just doers.
"Pure" terrorists, or the organizers of terrorist attacks, organize terrorist attacks for money. It is known that well-known international terrorists would come to the Caucasus to make money and run away. Every action should be taken to stop them.
By Aslambek Aslakhanov, assistant to Russian president
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