Staunton, January 14 – One of the most frightening developments for any government is when a group of armed individuals try to seize explosives, raising the specter that they may use them for nefarious purposes, and are prepared to use lethal force against guards in their attempt to do so.
Yesterday, that happened at the Krasnouralsk Chemical Factory, a bankrupt firm in Sverdlovsk Oblast. According to the limited reports so far, a group of unarmed men broke into the factory and shot three unarmed guards who remain hospitalized with wounds of varying degrees of severity (interfax.ru/russia/545308, svpressa.ru/accidents/news/164250/versia.ru/troe-oxrannikov-byli-raneny-v-rezultate-vooruzhennogo-napadeniya-na-ximicheskij-zavod-v-sverdlovskoj-oblasti).
The factory no longer had the explosives it used to manufacture, officials say. Earlier, they note, the government had insisted on the destruction of “more than 300 tons of dangerous substances.” That presumably was carried out, and so there was nothing that the armed group sought left for them.
Those who launched the attack; now, an investigation has been launched by the regional police authority. It is focusing in the first instance, investigators say, on the possible involvement of ex-convicts and the unemployed, as well as, to use Russian officialese, “others inclined to illegal activities.”
This may be nothing more than the actions of a criminal gang, but two other possibilities exist that should not be discounted until more is known: It may reflect a provocation by the authorities so smoke out radicals or to justify further repression; or it may be a political act by Islamists or other radicals.