President Dmitry Medvedev’s initial reaction to the Moscow Metro bombings was sober and circumspect, while Vladimir Putin’s suggestive promise of bloody retribution was a much bigger hit with the public. In order to catch up with Putin’s rhetoric, Medvedev has been turning up the temperature with more tough talk about how he will apply “crueler” methods to go after those responsible. He even dressed the part, wearing a black t-shirt under a black blazer, which reminded me of the threatening video he made to intimidate the president of Ukraine. However until he starts practicing Judo, shooting tigers, and having affairs with lithe young gymnasts, this macho posturing is going to ring a little hollow…
Blogging at the Moscow Times, Paul Goble points to some concerns that this wave of terrorism is politically forcing Medvedev to abandon his rule-of-law script.
Clear evidence that many Russians are worried about these things was offered by two other commentators Wednesday. In a posting on politcom.ru, Ivan Yartsev asks whether President Dmitry Medvedev will be “a guarantor [of the Russian Constitution, as his job description requires] or the terminator” of what democratic arrangements it provides.
Despite his frequent statements about the importance of law and a legal state, Medvedev since the terrorist attacks has sounded quite similar to Putin in his commitment to “find and destroy” all those responsible rather than to bring them to justice as the Constitution and Russian laws require.
In his remarks, Yartsev says, Medvedev appears to have forgotten hisduties, and “as a result of populist competition between the members ofthe ruling tandem, the positions of Russia in the Caucasus may continueto be weakened as a result of the ‘illegal’ positions of the lawenforcement organs” that the country’s political leaders are callingfor.
Clearly, Yartsev concludes, the powers that be in Moscow do notunderstand that “extrajudicial reprisals over the leaders of theterrorists will permit their comrades in arms to create around thedestroyed bandits the auto of martyrdom,” something that will lead tomore, not fewer, terrorist attacks in Russia in the future.