Airport bombing: FSB out of firing line?

FRONT-1-blast.jpgFollowing Monday’s bombing which rocked Moscow’s Domodedovo airport and left 35 people dead, President Medvedev has been remarkably quick to point the finger of blame at the airport’s management, which he claims failed to provide adequate security, despite the fact that most international airports do not have heavily securitized meet-and-greet sections.  The latest from RFE/RL is that Medvedev has dismissed the chief of the Interior Ministry transport department for the Central Federal District, after lambasting ‘passive’ security officers.  

Observers have noted however that in the blame game that inevitably comes in the wake of any disaster, the FSB, which is charged with the role of extirpating terrorism (and according to the Telegraph, may have had a tip-off) has come off relatively lightly.  As Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan point out in today’s Moscow Times:

But there were two top officials who were conspicuously absent from Medvedev’s meeting — Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and Federal Security Service director Alexander Bortnikov. They should have been grilled on whether everything possible had been done to prevent the attack.


Bortnikov or Nurgaliyev avoided television cameras during the first eight hours after the explosion.

These tactics clearly demonstrate that Russia’s top officials view the terrorist attack at Domodedovo as being no different than a natural disaster in which there is no guilty party, only a tragic accident. Questions of the government’s and individual ministers’ negligence and basic responsibility to provide security for its citizens are avoided.

An article in the Washington Post reinforces this interpretation by reporting that when Medvedev met with the FSB, he ‘made no mention in his public remarks of the agency’s inability to stop Monday’s attack. Instead, he praised its record’.  Which begs the question, is it impossible for Putin’s pet service to be given a public dressing down by the President?  Or are the services, despite their ostensible aim, designed in fact to solidify the state apparatus and power vertical rather than focusing on the root causes of terrorism?