TODAY: Terrorist bomb explosion at Moscow’s busiest airport kills at least 35; Islamic militants seen to be likely perpetrators; Twitter fills gaps in media coverage; Medvedev postpones arrival in Davos. Final START vote expected today; Russia-Pakistan meeting to improve ties; activists claim UN environmental inspectors denied full access to Sochi site; politician assaulted over views? Lenin
At least 35 people have died and 130 been injured at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport after an apparent suicide bomber blew up 5kg of TNT in the airport’s meet and greet section. The Guardian has video footage from the airport directly after the explosion. Suspicion as to the perpetrators has fallen squarely on Islamic militants; according to the Independent, witnesses said that the bomber shouted: ‘I will kill you all’. Ria-Novosti reports that the bomb was set off by two terrorists, one of whom was female, echoing the ‘black widow’ Metro killings of last year. Russia’s national anti-terrorism committee, as well as the President, have blamed inadequate security measures at the airport for the incident. Apparently the special services had received a tip-off which even pointed to the exact location of the bomb, but failed to act in time. A Reuters analysis argues that the tragedy ‘underscores Putin’s failure to put a stop to insurgency after more than a decade in power’. The New York Times points out that previous terrorist attacks have been followed by a wave of suppression – will this time prove any different? In the absence of concrete information about events from the official media channels, Twitter apparently quickly filled in the blanks. President Medvedev has postponed his trip to the Davos World Economic Forum by a day, in order to focus on the situation at hand.
Russia’s lower house of parliament is expected today to hold its third and final vote on ratification of the START treaty with the United States. Pakistan and Russia will aim to smooth over differences as Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov presents the Kremlin’s interests at two days of bilateral talks which are expected to cover thorny issues such as Islamist militancy as well as Afghanistan.
Environmentalists claim that the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee limited access to representatives of the United Nations Environment Program during their annual inspection of the Olympic construction projects. Twenty people, among them eight Azeri natives, have been detained in St. Petersburg over a fight allegedly involving Russian and Caucasus football fans. A politician who had campaigned for cuts to utilities fees has said he believes that a recent violent assault on is person was linked to his political activities.
Of the 250,000 people who have voted in an online poll to help decide the fate of Lenin’s corpse, two-thirds apparently wish to see him buried.
PHOTO: The wife and son of a victim of the bombing at Domodedovo Airport near Moscow attend a memorial service at the airport. Russia has endured 15 years of terrorist attacks, but the bombing symbolizes an escalation in hitting vulnerable facilities. (Denis Sinyakov Photo)