Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Increasing Popular Indifference to Terrorism in the North Caucasus Putting Russia at Risk, Analyst Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, January 12 -- Terrorist actions in the North Caucasus have become so frequent that Russian society has become “accustomed to terror” and even indifferent to reports about these crimes in the media, a Moscow analyst says, a major shift from a decade ago and one that puts Russia at far greater risk.
In an essay entitled, “Fear – the Best Weapon Against Terror,” Grigory Geroyev argues that the daily reports about “victims, murders and catastrophes” in the North Caucasus has meant that today is now “accustomed to terror and to blood,” unlike in 1999 when “society began to shake from fear and panic as a result of a number of harsh terrorist acts and hostage takings.”
Russians at that time “were afraid that something similar could happen to [them]. … But that was then. Today,” Geroyev says, “happily but perhaps unhappily this is not the case.” And hence Russians have lost “the vigilance and care which fear induces and in the final analysis helps save our lives” (www.rus-obr.ru/print/discuss/5219).
“Society has become accustomed to terror,” the Moscow analyst says. “Accustomed to blood, accustomed to daily reports about victims, murders and catastrophes. And it is possible even to say that contemporary society is accustomed to blood, accustomed to feel death around it, that it has adapted itself to this far from joyous development.”
When Ingushetia President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was attacked by militants, “few reacted with horror or with the thought that the hands of terror could so easily reach out to touch a regional leader. The majority [of people in the Russian Federation] only discussed the political motives of what had taken place.”
When the Nevsky Ekspress was blown up, were people angry? Hardly. “Society of course was upset. But no more than that” – and even that anger didn’t last more than a few days. Some analysts, Geroyev continues, even celebrated that reaction: “Terror in Russia ‘does not work’ anymore,” one wrote. “It is not achieving its goal.”
That analyst, Vitaly Leybin, the chief editor of “Russky reporter,” even suggested that “all terrorists are fools.” While agreeing that “terror in Russia is not working today,” Geroyev insists that it is absolutely wrong to think that “terrorists are fools” or that they will not adapt to the reactions around them.
“If today we have become indifferent to the reality that every day in the Caucasus people are dying from terrorist acts, this does not mean that this does not threaten us,” Geroyev insists. Those who are conducting terrorist actions in the Caucasus have “the same goals” and are using “the same means” as Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Geroyev says that he is certain that “many who read these lines will say: well the problems of the Caucasus should not agitate us.” That’s the way people in that region are, have always been and will always be. “Unfortunately,” he adds, “that is an incorrect position because everything that is taking place in the Caucasus today can occur tomorrow with us.”
That is because “the Caucasus is the place where Russia is today slowly losing its control” of the situation. Consequently, responding to terrorism with “indifference” as many Russians now do is “stupid,” far more stupid than anything than the terrorists themselves are characterized by.
Consequently, Geroyev argues, “it is time again to return to oneself a feeling of fear before terror, a feeling which awakens vigilance, care, and attentiveness. One cannot defeat terrorism with indifference,” because with such an approach, the number and size of terrorist attacks will only grow, trends that will ultimately force Russians, their target, to care.

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