RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 26, 2011

pg-26-medvedev-epa_541564t.jpgTODAY: Putin vows tough stance on those responsible for deadly airport bomb; Medvedev attacks Domodedovo officials for security ‘chaos’; conjecture as to perpetrators continues; FSB getting off lightly? IOC rebuffs fears for Olympic safety; START approved in lower house of Duma; Georgia’s new Russian language channel; Medvedev promotes political competition; Russia’s heroin problem

Prime Minister Putin has vowed that ‘retribution is inevitable’ for the suicide bombing which took the lives of 35 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.  Media reports still conflict upon the identities of the bomber(s), with current reports suggesting either a female ‘Black Widow’ bomber accompanied by a man, or a man alone.  According the Economist, CCTV footage suggests a male bomber, who ‘intriguingly […] did not have the appearance of a north Caucasian’.  Meanwhile the Telegraph says that the two bombers were the product of an Al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan.  Tributes have poured in for Ukrainian playwright Anna Mashutina, who died in the explosion as she arrived in Moscow to attend an awards ceremony.  The BBC has a round up of reactions to the tragedy from the Russian media, whilst RFE/RL gauges the public reaction with translations of some of the comments left on the websites of RFE/RL and gazeta.ru amongst others. 

President Medvedev has lambasted airport officials for what he described as chaotic security conditions, and has launched a criminal investigation into Domodedovo’s management.  The Washington Post pointsout that he was considerably softer on the supposedlyterrorism-preventing FSB.  The fact that neither Interior MinisterRashid Nurgaliyev and FederalSecurity Service director Alexander Bortnikov were called to emergencymeetings held by Medvedev or Putin indicate an unwillingness toapportion blame to Russia’s top security services, concurs a Moscow Times op-ed.  ‘What we have here is the total collapse of anti-terrorism operations in the country’ says an unequivocal Boris Nemtsov, who views thePrime Minister’s inefficient policy on Islamic extremism as whollyresponsible.  But neither Medvedev nor Putin are equipped to deal with the conundrumofthe Caucasus, argues this FT analysis.  A Carnegie Center analyst suggests that Medvedev and Putin cannot takejoint charge of the inflammatory situation in the region, but rather, ‘[t]he one who isstronger is in charge, and right now, Putin is stronger. And this is whyeverything continues’.

The International Olympic Committee has said that the events will not impugn Russia’s ability to host the 2014 Winter games.  The commander of NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command has offered condolences to Russia as military ties improve between the two former adversaries.  Viktor Bout’s wife has called the trial against her husband a ‘big political show’ used to deflect public attention away from the US’ own foreign policy issues.  The lower chamber of the state Duma has passed the START treaty, leaving it to move to the upper house, for a vote which is widely seen as a formality.  In a move towards media independence, a new Georgian television station is about to start broadcasting news in Russian from Tbilisi.

President Medvedev has apparently espoused a gradual transition to a multi-party system in power, in the belief thatpolitical competition‘ is essential.  Reuters has an in-depth report on the tide of heroin flowing into Russia, and those who are drowning silently under it.

PHOTO: Dmitry Medvedev visit a bomb victim in a Moscow hospital  (EPA)