Russian Social and Political Turmoil at the Arrival Gate

By Jeremy Cornelius

MOSCOW — On Monday, Jan. 24 at 4:32 p.m. a suicide bomber attacked the arrival section of Moscow’s busiest airport, Domodedovo, injuring around 180 people and killing 35. Thirty-one people died at the site of the explosion, one in an ambulance and three in hospitals.

With about 20 million people passing through the airport daily, the “terrorist attack,” as Medvedev referred to it in a televised response, prompted the airport to renovate their security forces. According to the Russian newspaper Rianovosti, President Dmitry Medvedev is taking steps to ensure that passengers and their luggage undergo a complete screening upon entering airports. Medvedev also ordered that Federal Security Service (FSS) officials be held accountable for not effectively screening passengers to protect from terrorist attacks.

According to “Morning Edition” on National Public Radio (NPR), David Greene reports that the metal detectors at the entrance to the airport “are only used on occasion.” So even though the attack was caused by alleged terrorists, the airport security shares a part in the blame by not utilizing security to the fullest extent. The attack could have possibly been avoided had security taken the precaution to screen for lethal weapons or bombs.

The attack was obviously intense. “ [It was] shocking at the time, but the fervor has pretty much died down,” says Polly Barks ‘10. Barks lives in Korolev, a city 20 km north of Moscow and about 2 hours south of Domodedovo. According to what Barks knows, the bomber shouted, “I’m going to kill you all!” and then detonated the bomb in the arrival section of the airport.

Barks impression of the airport’s security appears to parallel that of what Greene reports: after waiting at the same airport for four hours a few weeks before the bombing, she says, “I’m not at all surprised. I waited for a friend coming from America in the same spot as the bombing and saw people walking freely in and out of the customs/arrival area. I think people were not surprised simply because everyone knows security is so lax.”

Obama stated that the incident is “an outrageous act of terrorism,” and offered any needed assistance from America. Despite the heartfelt response from Obama, NPR reports that American airport security will not change, but Americans have been complaining about the “intrusive TSA tactics, such as screening machines and full-body pat-downs,” which may dissipate with the awareness of a possible attack illustrated by Russia’s event.

The level of sadness and shock in Russia has decreased since the bombing only four days ago, but, according to Barks, “this has reignited some of the tension between the pro-Russians and the ethnic minorities from the Caucasus.” Just over a week ago, Russia faced escalating race-hate incidents with the murder of Yegor Sviridov. According to Rianovosti, “Sviridov was shot dead in a brawl with migrants from Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus region.”

Courtesy of NPR, The New York Times, and Rianovosti



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