Saturday, July 13, 2024

Moscow Live performance Corridor Capturing: Russia Begins Day of Mourning for Victims

Lower than per week in the past, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia claimed a fifth time period along with his highest-ever share of the vote, utilizing a stage-managed election to point out the nation and the world that he was firmly in management.

Simply days later got here a searing counterpoint: His vaunted safety equipment failed to stop Russia’s deadliest terrorist assault in 20 years.

The assault on Friday, which killed a minimum of 133 folks at a live performance corridor in suburban Moscow, was a blow to Mr. Putin’s aura as a frontrunner for whom nationwide safety is paramount. That’s very true after two years of a conflict in Ukraine that he describes as key to Russia’s survival — and which he forged as his high precedence after the election final Sunday.

“The election demonstrated a seemingly assured victory,” Aleksandr Kynev, a Russian political scientist, mentioned in a cellphone interview from Moscow. “And all of a sudden, towards the backdrop of a assured victory, there’s this demonstrative humiliation.”

Mr. Putin appeared blindsided by the assault. It took him greater than 19 hours to handle the nation in regards to the assault, the deadliest in Russia because the 2004 college siege in Beslan, within the nation’s south, which claimed 334 lives. When he did, the Russian chief mentioned nothing in regards to the mounting proof {that a} department of the Islamic State dedicated the assault.

As a substitute, Mr. Putin hinted that Ukraine was behind the tragedy and mentioned the assailants had acted “similar to the Nazis,” who “as soon as carried out massacres within the occupied territories” — evoking his frequent, false description of present-day Ukraine as being run by neo-Nazis.

“Our widespread obligation now — our comrades on the entrance, all residents of the nation — is to be collectively in a single formation,” Mr. Putin mentioned on the finish of a five-minute speech, attempting to conflate the battle towards terrorism along with his invasion of Ukraine.

The query is how a lot of the Russian public will purchase into his argument. They may ask whether or not Mr. Putin, with the invasion and his battle with the West, really has the nation’s safety pursuits at coronary heart — or whether or not he’s woefully forsaking them, as lots of his opponents say he’s.

Passengers driving the subway in Moscow on Saturday underneath a display displaying security directions after the assault.Credit score…Nanna Heitmann for The New York Occasions

The truth that Mr. Putin apparently ignored a warning from america a few potential terrorist assault is prone to deepen the skepticism. As a substitute of appearing on the warnings and tightening safety, he dismissed them as “provocative statements.”

“All this resembles outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilize our society,” Mr. Putin mentioned on Tuesday in a speech to the F.S.B., Russia’s home intelligence company, referring to the Western warnings. After the assault on Friday, a few of his exiled critics have cited his response as proof of the president’s detachment from Russia’s true safety considerations.

Fairly than preserving society protected from precise, violent terrorists, these critics say, Mr. Putin has directed his sprawling safety providers to pursue dissidents, journalists and anybody deemed a menace to the Kremlin’s definition of “conventional values.”

A working example: Simply hours earlier than the assault, state media reported that the Russian authorities had added “the L.G.B.T. motion” to an official record of “terrorists and extremists”; Russia had already outlawed the homosexual rights motion final 12 months. Terrorism was additionally among the many many expenses prosecutors leveled towards Aleksei A. Navalny, the imprisoned opposition chief who died final month.

“In a rustic during which counterterrorism particular forces chase after on-line commenters,” Ruslan Leviev, an exiled Russian army analyst, wrote in a social media submit on Saturday, “terrorists will at all times be at liberty.”

Even because the Islamic State repeatedly claimed duty for the assault and Ukraine denied any involvement, the Kremlin’s messengers pushed into overdrive to attempt to persuade the Russian public that this was merely a ruse.

Olga Skabeyeva, a state tv host, wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian army intelligence had discovered assailants “who would appear to be ISIS. However that is no ISIS.” Margarita Simonyan, the editor of the state-run RT tv community, wrote that experiences of Islamic State duty amounted to a “primary sleight of hand” by the American information media.

On a prime-time tv discuss present on the state-run Channel 1, Russia’s best-known ultraconservative ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, declared that Ukraine’s management and “their puppet masters within the Western intelligence providers” had absolutely organized the assault.

It was an effort to “undermine belief within the president,” Mr. Dugin mentioned, and it confirmed common Russians that they’d no alternative however to unite behind Mr. Putin’s conflict towards Ukraine.

Mr. Dugin’s daughter was killed in a automobile bombing close to Moscow in 2022 that U.S. officers mentioned was certainly licensed by elements of the Ukrainian authorities, however with out American involvement.

U.S. officers have mentioned there isn’t a proof of Ukrainian involvement within the live performance corridor assault, and Ukrainian officers ridiculed the Russian accusations. Andriy Yusov, a consultant of Ukraine’s army intelligence company, mentioned Mr. Putin’s declare that the attackers had fled towards Ukraine and meant to cross into it, with the assistance of the Ukrainian authorities, made no sense.

In current months, Mr. Putin has appeared extra assured than at some other level since he launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Russian forces have retaken the initiative on the entrance line, whereas Ukraine is struggling amid flagging Western assist and a scarcity of troops.

Inside Russia, the election — and its predetermined final result — underscored Mr. Putin’s dominance over the nation’s politics.

Close to Pink Sq. in Moscow on Saturday. The realm is closed as a part of elevated safety measures after the terrorist assault on Friday.Credit score…Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

Mr. Kynev, the political scientist, mentioned he believed many Russians have been now in “shock,” as a result of “restoring order has at all times been Vladimir Putin’s calling card.”

Mr. Putin’s early years in energy have been marked by terrorist assaults, culminating within the Beslan college siege in 2004; he used these violent episodes to justify his rollback of political freedoms. Earlier than Friday, the newest mass-casualty terrorist assault within the capital area was a suicide bombing at an airport in Moscow in 2011 that killed 37 folks.

Nonetheless, given the Kremlin’s efficacy in cracking down on dissent and the information media, Mr. Kynev predicted that the political penalties of the live performance corridor assault could be restricted, so long as the violence was not repeated.

“To be trustworthy,” he mentioned, “our society has gotten used to preserving quiet about inconvenient matters.”

Fixed Méheut contributed reporting.

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