Staunton, March 25 – Almost no
Russian official or pro-Kremlin commentator limited himself to expressions of
sympathy in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Igor Yakovenko says.
Instead, nearly all the representatives of the Russian establishment sought not
only to blame the victims but to exploit the attacks for Moscow’s political
This pattern, the Moscow commentator
says, both raises questions about how such people view the world around them
and both underscores and expands the growing gulf between Putin’s Russia, on
the one hand, and the countries of the democratic West, on the other (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=56F4CAC652801).
the reaction of Russian politicians and media figures to the tragedy in
Brussels,” Yakovenko says, he “constantly has asked himself how such people
behave in their own families and among their friends. Do they at the funerals
of friends or relatives also declare that the person who had died is guilty in
his own death?”
that is exactly how Moscow commentators have responded to the Brussels tragedy,
he continues. “Practically none of the Russian representatives of the
establishment could limit themselves to simple sympathy, which is the normal
human reaction to the death of people
and the suffering of those nearby.”
in Russia’s public space, reactions ranged from “open happiness” at what
happened in the Belgian capital to claims of the “we told you so” variety and
statements that the Europeans can only defend themselves against terrorism if
they adopt measures like Vladimir Putin has and cooperate with Moscow on Moscow’s
says this set of attitudes was prominently displayed on Wednesday on the
Politics program of Russia’s first channel hosted by Petr Tolstoy and Aleksandr
Gordon. “Naturally,” they gave the first
word on this subject to the outspoken and outrageous Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the
head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
is extremely difficult to find someone who can at one and the same time pose as
an angry opposition figure, a loyal patriot, a convinced enemy of the West and
the real opposition, and at the same time who is 100 percent loyal to the authorities
and regularly collects the votes of the 10 percent of the supporters of a
caricature of fascism,” the commentator says.
said on the program with regard to Brussels: “Europe is burning and let it
burn. One needs to be happy about this. No cooperation … We will declare
sanctions against them forever!”
that outburst, almost anyone else might appear to be a complete liberal. Certainly several of the other participants
on the show were less extreme, but a careful examination of their comments
shows that they were inclined in the same direction but were constrained from
expressing it so dramatically.
for example, Petr Tolstoy, one of the hosts complained that Federica Mogerini,
the EU’s foreign minister, had made to reference in her press conference about the
Brussels tragedy to the losses Russia has suffered. “And he added that Europe
has been wrong about Russia for 25 years, “thinking that [it] has the right to
give [Moscow] advice.”
participants, including military expert Igor Korotchenko, adopted a similar line,
something that showed that “the terrorist acts and the reaction to them had
displayed the gulf not only between the values of Europe and the Islamic world
but also between those of Europe and those of Russia,” Yakovenko continues.”
“this gulf between Europe and Russia became ever deeper” with the comments of
the participants of this program and of others in the Russia media over the
last few days.
an article in today’s “Novaya gazeta” entitled “The Apocalypse was Yesterday,” Aleksandr
Mineyev, that Moscow paper’s Brussels
correspondent, shows how that gulf is deepening and widening from the
perspective of Europe (novayagazeta.ru/politics/72382.html).
Brussels attacks, he says, have prompted the expert community in Brussels and
elsewhere in Europe to begin “a profound analysis” of why these attacks
happened and what must be done to prevent them in the future without
sacrificing the freedoms Europeans have long been accustomed to.
But none of
these analyses make any mention of Russia, Mineyev points out, or even
statements like those of Zhirinovsky. “For
Belgian and French experts and politicians, excluding persons like Marine Le
Pen, the terrorist acts in Brussels and earlier in Paris are not the subject of
geopolitics of the time of the Holy Alliance but a new internal problem of
gratefully received a delegation of the FBI from New York,” he notes, “but it
did not react to Russian calls to cooperate with its special services. Such cooperation on issues like terrorism
requires trust,” and “towards Russia after Crimea, ‘Novorossiya,’ and
Litvinenko,” that doesn’t exist and will take many years to restore.
“Russia is not
considered either a cause or a factor of the resolution of the problem of
terrorism in Europe.” For Belgium and the European Union, the main issue is “not
the struggle with ISIS and the role of Russia in the victory over this
terrorist organization.” Instead, it is maintaining the balance between the
struggle against terrorism and human rights.
Europeans thus do not see the problem in the same way. “Perhaps,” Mineyev says,
“the problem is rooted in the mentality” of the two. “Judging from the Russian
media,” he concludes, “out compatriot is ready for ‘Crimea is ours’ to suffer
losses of a material and reputational kind.” The Europeans in contrast are not.