By Paul Goble
In the absence of any specific findings, “it is not excluded,” Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko says, that the anonymous telephone warnings about bombs that have forced the evacuation of facilities in Russia over the last two weeks may be “a test of [Russia’s] special services.”
That was what appears to have happened in 1999 in Ryazan, he points out; and there is no reason to assume that this tactic could be repeated now (gordonua.com/news/worldnews/ne-isklyucheno-chto-lzheminirovaniya-v-rossii-proverka-specsluzhb-v-1999-godu-takoe-bylo-v-ryazani-pochemu-by-ne-povtorit-babchenko-208867.html).
Ukraine’s Gordon news agency to which Babchenko made this comment notes that “after a series of terrorist acts” in 1999, police found explosives planted in Ryazan. The then-director of the FSB said that “analogous explosive materials had been placed by FSB officers in several cities in the course of training exercises to raise the professionalism of the special services.”
“Why shouldn’t this be repeated?” Babchenko asks rhetorically. “I completely allow the possibility of such a variant” — although he acknowledges that there are many other possible explanations from genuine telephone terrorism to hooliganism to copycat crimes of one kind or another. He doesn’t address whether more than one of these factors might be involved.
The journalist adds that Russians have been living with a terrorist threat and warnings of terrorist threats for 20 years and in a certain sense have become used to such things. As a result, they aren’t inclined to show as much concern or alarm or even devote as much attention as many other peoples might. “That is what the country is like,” he says.