Saturday, March 14, 2020

Evacuations Following Bomb Threats Imposing Ever Greater Costs on Russia, Gorshkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 8 -- Over the last several years, bomb threats, all of which have turned out to be fake, have forced the evacuation of schools, government offices, airports, stores and shopping centers have forced the evacuation of more than two million Russians from thousands of sites.

            (For background on this phenomenon and on the ways it has disrupted Russian lives and corroded the public’s faith in Moscow’s ability to control things, see and

            This plague, which Moscow calls “telephone terrorism,” has so far proved beyond the capacity of the security services to limit let alone stop; and now Daily Storm journalist Ilya Gorshkov seeks to calculate just how much these evacuations have cost the Russian Federation (

            He evaluates the costs of such telephone terrorism for airlines, shopping centers, and government facilities including schools. Each flight that has to be cancelled or shortened by reports of a bomb costs the airlines from 200,000 to 500,000 rubles (3,000 to 8,000 US dollars), he says with some cases costing “millions of rubles.”

            The cost of such threats to shopping centers are harder to measure: they hit different stores differently and they impose far higher costs during busy shopping periods like before Christmas and much less in months like February. That helps to explain why the telephone terrorist threat goes up before holidays.

`           But experts say, Gorshkov continues, that the emptying of stores not only deprives them of 10 to 20 percent of their daily sales but depresses business by discouraging potential customers from coming in the future. The ultimate price of any one bombing thus may be long-lasting and far higher than the immediate cost.

            “Government institutions are yet another goal of telephone terrorists,” he reports. “In December 2019, the number of false reports about bombings in Moscow schools was so frequent” that education officials had to circulate a videoclip to convince parents that it was safe to send their children to class.

            Estimating the losses from such attacks is difficult because schools and government offices don’t sell things as such. However, the losses are great not only because of disruptions but also because they increase popular suspicions that the authorities can’t ensure security even in these institutions.

            One response has been that some institutions, including Russian Rail, are not reporting bomb threats and not evacuating people, something that works well as long as there are no real bombs but that could lead to disaster if at some point those who call in with threats actually follow through on them (

            Given that the government seems unable to stop this plague – it is charging people with this crime but that has not slowed the rise in the number of telephone threats – the likelihood is that the number of telephone terrorist attacks will continue to rise and with that the costs that Russians, Russian firms and the Russian government as well have to bear.

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