Staunton, March 27 – On May 30, 1896, just four days after the coronation of Nicholas II as emperor, nearly 1400 Russians were trampled to death in Moscow’s Khodynka field. Instead of making an immediate appearance that might have calmed the situation, the tsar at the urging of his suite put in an appearance at a ball given by the French ambassador.
The next day, after most of the dead had been cleared away, the new tsar and his wife did go to the field, they visited some of those who had been hospitalized; dismissed some lower-ranking officials who they felt were to blame, and they offered assistance to the families of those who had lost relatives there. But in many ways, as history would show, their moves came too late.
That event, as gruesome as it was, did not immediately provoke either a rising or a revolution, but it undercut the personal loyalty Russian subjects had long had for their tsar, something Nicholas II himself felt, and thus opened the way for the revolutions that ultimately cost Nicholas not only his throne but his life.
One cannot help recalling that tragedy in the wake of the Kemerovo fire. Once again, the ruler did not rush to the scene, only changing his “schedule,” according to his press secretary. And once again, Russians asked “where is Putin?” and “why isn’t he with his suffering people? (forum-msk.org/material/news/14489252.htm).
Once again, the Kremlin ruler came but only after some Russians had begun to call him “the president of catastrophes” and showed their lack of faith in anything his officials or even he had to say about what had occurred (https://forum-msk.org/material/news/14488136.html and graniru.org/Politics/Russia/activism/m.268707.html).
Once again, when he finally showed up and declared the day of mourning others had already announced (ura.news/news/1052328689), the new tsar showed that in his system -- just like in that of Nicholas II’s -- officials don’t answer to the people but only to the president (republic.ru/posts/90206).
And once again, a preventable tragedy shows that the Russian regime can only change officials rather than systemic policies, that the population feels increasingly distant from its rulers and that the opposition at least for the moment is prepared to unite against the regime happened (afterempire.info/2018/03/27/kemerovo-meeting/, onkavkaz.com/news/2181-otchajanie-i-bol-tragedii-v-kemerovo-trebuyut-kazni-vinovnyh-rossijane-vybirayut-vyzhivat-bez-v.html and
Moreover, just as slightly more than a century ago, this event is not going to lead to any immediate revolution; but it is going to cast a shadow on Putin’s last term, one in which ever fewer people will put their trust in his regime or even in him. And as such, the horrible fire in Kemerovo may very well come to be remembered his Putin’s Khodynka field, an omen of what may lie ahead.