Sunday, December 22, 2019

Armed Attack on FSB HQ Latest of Putin’s ‘Reichstag Fires,’ Some Russians Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 20 – The Kremlin has done everything it can to suggest that the attack on the FSB headquarters in the Lubyanka was the work of a long gunman, but because “the majority of Muscovites learned about it from social networks or friends” (, some are offering more conspiratorial explanations.

            One blogger, Yegor Yershov, has suggested that this attack brings to mind Hitler’s Reichstag Fire, a conflagration set by the Nazis, blamed on their opponents, and then used by the Nazi leader to impose his dictatorship ( Others mindful of Putin’s modus operandi argue that this is only his “latest” Reichstag Fire (

            Because such apocalyptic conspiracy theories are so common in Russia, they are typically dismissed out of hand, despite a national history, including Stalin’s murder of Kirov in 1934 and Putin’s apartment bombings in 1999. And it is far from clear whether this attack on the FSB will be the turning point those events were.

            But in somewhat less hyperbolic language, other Russian analysts are arguing that this attack changes things and that relations between the powers and the people will change as both sides now will view violence as an option. (For such views, see,,  and

            More immediately, two comments suggest that the attack on the Lubyanka will lead to two serious changes with real consequences. On the one hand, it almost certainly will lead to the strengthening of official defenses at the center of the Russian capital lest there be a repetition (

            And on the other hand, this armed attack is already prompting calls for a tightening of laws governing ownership and storage of weapons ( Russian laws are hardly liberal, but there may be as many as 25 million guns in private hands (

            Whether this is a case of officials exploiting a violent act or organizing it in order to achieve those and perhaps broader ends is as yet uncertain, but the fact that such issues are being discussed shows that this violent act has already changed the political climate in the Russian capital. 

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