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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2010

Terror returns to Moscow For workers' unity against terror, repression, racism and capitalism

THIRTY NINE people died and over 70 were badly injured when two bombs exploded on the Moscow metro during the morning rush hour on Monday 29 March. This is not just a tragedy in which working people died, but an act intended to terrify people, an act which will have serious social and political consequences.

Igor Yasin and Rob Jones, CWI Russia

Not surprisingly, given the past history of Russia, discussions on the blogosphere on the question of who was behind the attacks have mainly presented three options - Islamic fundamentalists, the extreme right or the Russian secret services.

It is not surprising that some people believe these bombings could have been carried out by the state. After all, it is widely believed that a section of the Russian internal security service, the FSB, was behind horrific terror attacks in Moscow in 1999, which gave the regime the pretext to launch its second Chechen war and which also saw Vladimir Putin springboard to victory in the following presidential election.

However, it does appear from the video footage taken in the metro that the perpetrators were female suicide bombers.

The media suggests that they were "black widows" - extremely embittered women from the North Caucasus, who have lost their husbands, sons and other family members during Russia's brutal wars and 'anti-terror campaigns', and who have then been recruited by political Islamists to carry out such acts.

Reaction

But whoever was behind the attack, it has played into the hands of the Russian authorities.

True to form, President Medvedev and Premier Putin have both, through snarling teeth, promised to annihilate the terrorists.

The Kremlin loyal "opposition" parties have jumped on the bandwagon. Genaddy Zuganov, leader of the Communist Party, demands that the moratorium of the death sentence is lifted - quite how the threat of execution will deter a suicide bomber intent on detonating a bomb is not explained.

The right populist politician, Sergei Abeltsev, thinks that the relatives and friends of the suicide bombers should have all their property confiscated. The neo-liberal politicians, several of whom are now frequently subject to police repression, call for full co-operation with the police in the name of "civil solidarity".

Representatives from the ruling party have been even more direct. The leader of its youth wing, Boris Yakimenko, put the blame for the metro carnage on the opposition.

The ruling elite will step up its campaign to lump together reactionary terrorists with genuine political opposition. This is already happening in words, with the campaign against "extremism", supposedly intended to target terrorists and the far right who use bombings and other violent means, now being deployed against the left and trade union activists and also used to crack down on democratic rights.

Following the Beslan school massacre in September 2004, the election of regional governors was abolished.

After a bomb attack on the 'Nevsky Express' (Moscow-St Petersburg train) last autumn, amendments to the law on extremism were passed, making it an "act of extremism" to attempt to block traffic on the railways or roads, which is a highly effective form of protest traditionally used by workers in Russia.

Naturally, the far right has used the metro attack to whip up their reactionary propaganda and terror against immigrants.

Territory without hope

In many ways, given the terrible social, economic and security situation in the North Caucasus, it is surprising that there have not been more terrorist acts in Moscow. (There have been many in other parts of the country).

A majority of the population in the North Caucasus have difficulties scraping together a living equal to the UN's poverty guideline of $2 a day. By the end of last year, unemployment over the whole of the region was 20%, at 56% in Ingushetia.

Military and police activities in the North Caucasus have been stepped up considerably in the last few months.

So widespread are the permanent 'purges' (ie police actions aimed at wiping out alleged 'terrorists'), military operations, explosions and assassinations, against the background of extreme poverty and unemployment and endemic corruption and repression, it is difficult not to describe the region as a 'war zone'.

The political Islamists find plenty of ready recruits from those who have lost family members during the conflicts and are living in abject poverty. It is from this extremely alienated layer that the so-called "black widows" are recruited.

The real cause of the problem is not to be found only in the existence of the terrorist underground or in demented suicide bombers, but in the existence of capitalism, which creates the conditions of mass poverty, desperation and humiliation and the feeling that there is no way out.

Russia is currently suffering the consequences of the economic crisis in the form of rising prices and wage cuts and arrears.

Thousands of people, notwithstanding the attempts by the police to stop them, have gone onto the streets in cities such as Archangelsk, Orel and Kaliningrad to protest.

An extraordinary split is developing within the structures of 'law and order'. In the recent stage-managed elections, the ruling party failed to get the votes it wanted. Against this background, these explosions will merely add to the growing sense of chaos in society.

System change

The only way to end terror attacks against innocent civilians is ultimately through the solidarity of working people and the poor, through an international struggle against poverty and the lack of basic democratic and other rights, with the creation of jobs with a living wage, and by building decent homes, schools and hospitals.

Gangster-parasitic capitalism that gives birth to violence and terror must be replaced by a democratically managed and planned economy, based on public ownership. This, in turn, would enable nationalities who wish to exercise genuine self-determination to do so and bring an end to the corruption, unemployment, poverty and authoritarianism that breeds violence and terror.

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