We can only defeat terrorism through the joint efforts of both the government and ordinary people. Virtually all of the responses of prominent Russian politicians, academics, religious leaders, and community activists to the terrorist attack that caused the derailment of the Nevsky Express have this as a leitmotif.
In his statement, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias called on all Russians to fight terror for the sake of their neighbours and in memory of its victims. “This obligation lies not only upon the state, but, also, upon all the people”, he said after serving a Memorial Litiya. “Today, we raise prayers for those who died and we pray for those injured in the attack. Amongst the dead were people whom we personally knew. Some of them were fervent Churchmen and helped the Church actively in its ministry. We will remember their names, as we will pray for all those who died. Our people should not become blasé about such events”.
This unprecedented crime moved not only Russians, but, also, caused heartfelt and sincere words of sympathy on the part of foreign politicians, including the leaders of many countries. In an interview with the Voice of Russia World Service, Vasili Likhachov, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Federation Council, pointed this up to us. In his view, this kind of tragedy forces us to reflect upon the possible solutions to many different problems. He said, “Above all, it focuses us on the problems related to the maintenance of an effective security system. Over the past few years, Russian legislators enacted a very thorough and tough anti-terrorism legislative agenda. The RF is one of the most active partners joined in the international cooperation against terrorism. The RF enforces almost all of the 13 international conventions against terrorism adopted by the UN. However, the action that we have witnessed opens our eyes to the fact that there are forces interested in destabilising both the society and government of our country. They aim at undermining the credibility of the government, even at the expense of human lives. I am convinced that all that we did after this tragic incident were moves in the right direction. However, we now need to think about the fact that we need security that is completely effective, security that would protect every Russian and every Russian family. We should also apply this principle to the safety of public institutions. From that point of view, no doubt, we face a very serious conversation. Today, it’s very important that in expressing our condolences to the bereaved families and providing moral and material assistance to those who suffered because of this terrorist act, we feel responsibility for the fate of their relatives and, indeed, all of Russian society. We do not need to dwell on the whole problem, for there are specialised structures to solve the security problems. It is important that society in general and ordinary people condemn such actions and develop a kind of antidote. When we create such a social alliance, we shall not only solve the current problems of national and international security, but, also, be able to provide a framework for the authoritative and civilised development of the Russian state and its rightful place in the world community”.
“This is not only a crisis for Russia, but, it is a problem all over the world, which sympathises with us now”, said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, the director of the Institute of Applied Politics, on-air at Voice of Russia. “This is something that unites us with all the countries that suffer from terrorism, who know what it is, who mourn their own dead. Only by working together, only joint efforts can solve this problem. It is necessary, perhaps, to think of new security measures, discuss them, and work hard to carry them through. Terrorism can exist only as long as there are people who think they can kill innocent people with impunity. Therefore, the state should throw all its energies and resources into the effort to find those responsible and punish them. We have no other choice. We must find these criminals. Moreover, the police said they have evidence. That is, there is hope that, after all, we will find the terrorists, and, God willing, we shall punish them”.
“Of course, I’m sure that this was a terrorist attack”, said Aleksandr Treshchov, the attorney for the EU representation in Russia. “Truly, no one else could have committed this act, and, certainly, this was a terrible tragedy for many people. Now, I believe that the number one task is to find the terrorists who committed this inhuman act against innocent civilians. Moreover, I think that it proves that [President Medvedev] is correct, whose position is that such cases require special courts. We must be confident that punishment is inevitable for those implicated in the deaths of innocent people. They have no place in our society. We need the special services, the government, and the President to protect us from such acts. We shouldn’t have to worry over the coming year about the lives of our loved ones, of our mothers and fathers. Therefore, I welcome the fact that many people are investigating this case. It shows a new attitude to such catastrophes, where all the people unite in order to track down these villains”, Mr Treshchov emphasised.
For her part, political analyst Nadezhda Arbatova, in an interview with Voice of Russia, suggested that the tragedy of the Neva Express raised very serious challenges to the government, security agencies, and to all of Russian society. “Clearly, everybody needs to be prepared to counter such terrorist acts. Trains such as the Nevsky Express are already in service, and, in future, there are plans to introduce new super-fast trains, whose speed will exceed 400 kilometres (@250 miles) per hour. It certainly raises the question of ensuring the safety of our railroads. Of course, now, it’s too early to say who exactly was involved in this terrorist act. However, if we found confirmation that extremists from the North Caucasus did it, I would ask everybody not to harbour xenophobic sentiments and take out their rage and their grief on ordinary folks who live in Moscow and other Russian cities“.
29 November 2009
Voice of Russia World Service