Op-ed: Is Putin behind the St. Petersburg train blast?

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April 6th, 2017 – Fort Russ News –

Op-ed by Denis Churilov & Inessa Sinchougova

When news broke of the April 3rd St. Petersburg metro blast, many of the top Western mainstream media outlets immediately framed the issue in a way that suggested Putin and the Federal Security Services (FSB) could have been behind the attack. 

Such a proposition is irrational. If one is to suppose  that the attack could have been conducted by Putin and the FSB, one would probably be inclined to believe that the authorities had a part to play in deadly cases past;

  • 1999 Moscow apartment building bombing; 

  • 2002 Moscow Nord-Ost hostage crisis; 
  • 2004 Beslan school massacre; 
  • Smaller scale “black widow” suicide bomber attacks of the late 1990s and early 2000s; 
  • 2010 Moscow metro bombing; 
  • 2011 Domodedovo International Airport bombing; 
  • 2013 Volgograd bus bombings; 
  • 2014 Attack on police in Grozny, Chechnya & the list can go on on. 

The original 1999 Moscow apartment building bombing conspiracy theory was initially peddled by Russian oligarchs who lost power after Putin became President – people like Berezovsky (Litvenenko was his employee) and Khodorkovsky (done for embezzlement of Yukos). These powerful billionaires looted Russia in the 1990s, during  the Yeltsin era, building up their wealth through privatisation of collective state property. 

“The good old days, When Russia could do no wrong. #yeltsinEra”

Yeltsin & Berezovsky

Many oligarchs still hold grudges against “the Putin regime” and his inner circle for depriving them of power. Berezovsky, for example, infamously smuggled arms and ammunition to Chechen militants, to desabilise the state from within. Such people, and their kind, utilise their resources to run smear campaigns in a desperate effort to hijack power, and with it, the untapped potential of Russia’s resources. Given that Western financial elites often operate in Russia through moles, it is fitting to quote a respectable American scholar on Russian studies, Stephen Cohen, “the West needs Russia, more than Russia needs the West.” (@ 6 minutes 13 seconds)

To assume for a minute that Putin and the FSB are behind terrorism in Russia, one would need to affiliate Putin and the FSB to those who often claim responsibility for the attacks, such as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Caucasus subgroups. These groups are ideologically supported by certain Middle Eastern states who openly curate the idea of a World Caliphate on the territory of the Russian Federation. Should one wrongly believe in this affiliation, then it is logical to stick to the mainstream media mantra; that Putin ‘created ISIS’ and its various Al Qaeda offspring, to justify a reason to intervene in the Middle Eastern affairs. (That is of course, if one has no historical knowledge at all of the rise of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1970s etc.)

This is standard, hypocritical reasoning veiled upon the Western mainstream audience. The reasoning does not apply to other governments who suffer from Islamic radicalism. 

There is no rhetoric that suggests that the recent London attack was organised by MI6/MI5, Theresa May and/or the Queen. There is no suggestion that the attacks in recent years on the French, German and Belgian soil were carried out by the respective authorities. 

This supposition is not without basis – history knows many an example of governments staging attacks against their own people, in order to evoke fear and anger, to mobilise the population against an external threat.

To understand which party is potentially ‘passing the buck’ to the other – one needs to think about motives. What motive could Putin have to stage an attack, at a time when a highly lucrative and internationally significant event, the FIFA World Cup, is being prepared? Some media have suggested that the attack is convenient for the Russian government, in a way that it drew attention away from the, so called, “anti-corruption”/anti-government protests led by Navalny a week prior to blast. 

This theory is dubious given that protests are organised quite regularly by political marginals, and that, nowadays, most Russian people do not take them seriously to begin with. Much like the late Mr. Nemtsov, whose murder Putin was accused of also, Mr. Navalny is not a popular political ‘rival’ in any significance of that word.  

On the right hand side, a young man can be seen wearing a shirt with a play on words, on an infamous Ukrainian anti-Putin slogan. Makes sense.

The only groups for whom protests play a role of importance are the people who take part in them (but even then, not always) and the mainstream media “journalists”. Mr. Navalny, for example,  could not draw a large crowd on the streets on the 26th of March, so he appealed to school kids and first year Uni students on the internet. Much of the crowd cannot legally vote and were still in diapers in the 1990s.

Shouldn’t you be in class?

The Russian blogosphere came up with a term for this phenomenon – “political paedophilia”, used to refer to the practice of exploiting impressionable kids for political purposes. Some of these kids attempted to continue the protests into the second weekend, by setting up social media pages calling for their counterparts go out into the streets on April 2. They failed to gather support, because a large majority had already lost interest.

See a previous article, on the ‘yellow duck’ phenomena at mass gatherings around the world

It is important to recap that with slight dips and turns from year to year, Putin remains a popular President. It goes against basic common sense to conduct false flag attacks when your approval ratings are above 80%.  Terrorist attacks of any kind are destabilising, as it suggests that the government and the security services are unable to take care of their people. This damages the legitimacy of the people who are in power, and is certainly not the way to preserve the status quo for the President.

Therefore, why would Putin – a wise political strategist – ‘distract’ from a protest that poses little to no political rivalry? To silence the people, would do more harm to his reputation than good. In 2011/2012, for example, political opposition was a lot more strongly felt in Russia, than that of 2017. Not without Western NGO funds, of course, but the possibility of a “colour revolution” was apparent.  No buildings or trains were blown up to ‘mask’ Russia’s normal democratic occurrences. 

Western mainstream often media supports low quality smear campaigns when it comes to the Putin government. Outlets such as The Economist and other Murdoch media have been particularly enthusiastic, despite the lack of verifiable evidence in any case. It was to be expected then, that the conspiracy theory regarding Putin’s involvement in the Monday metro attack would be openly propagated by BBC, CNN and others  – having never suggested the same for Paris, Brussels, Berlin or Orlando attacks. 

Given such complicity to the narrative, which party then, has the motives? 

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