Unprecedented nation-wide preventive measures against a possible terrorist attack were introduced in Russia on Tuesday, January 16, on orders from Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC).
It is easy to suggest that far fewer Muscovites will take the alert seriously the next time NAC finds it useful to cry “wolf.” It is entirely possible, however, that the next time the seasoned veterans of the counter-terrorist games could decide to play it “for real.” The “war on terror” in Russia has always been a continuation of the politics of “restoring the integrity of the state” by dirty means. The deadly explosions in the apartment buildings in Moscow in September 1999 served perfectly the purpose of mobilizing the shocked society around Vladimir Putin’s war platform; the chain of suicide bombings in 2003 created the atmosphere of anxiety that answered ideally for the attack on the oil giant Yukos and its owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky; the horrible massacre in the Beslan school in September 2004 was made into a useful pretext for canceling regional elections. Now Putin appears to be at loss about the choice of his successor and the “patriotic” chekisty are ready to make up his mind for him. The question is only about what will it take to transform the NAC into a National Salvation Committee.