Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Telephone Terrorism Eroding Russians’ Faith in Force Structures, Kagarlitsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 23 – Since the beginning of this month, more than 800,000 people in Moscow and tens of thousands more in other Russian cities have had to be evacuated because anonymous callers say bombs have been planted. In many cases, the authorities have had to evacuate the same buildings more than once.

            The latest wave shows no sign of letting up, and the costs both direct in disruption and in one case a death from a heart attack and in frayed nerves are mounting. But more serious, Boris Kagarlitsky of the Moscow Institute of Globalization and Social Movements says, is impact it is having on Russian attitudes toward the authorities (versia.ru/telefony-i-terroristy).

            The authorities have been relatively quiet. They blame the telephone calls on Ukrainians, but, as the social analyst points out, they have not provided a single phone number, name or IP address from which the calls come let alone arrested anyone or sought the help of foreign governments to stop this plague.

            It is obvious to all that finding those responsible is “no easy task,” Kagarlitsky says. But what do we pay such enormous sums of money to the siloviki who are supposed to be defending Russians but clearly cannot. All their talk about how difficult this task is sounds like “sabotage and wrecking.”

            “I won’t dispute that it is much easier to bring to trial and imprison the authors of foolish posts published on Facebook that to catch telephone terrorists,” the analyst continues. “But from the point of view of the reputation of the state, things are exactly the opposite.” Those who post things the authorities don’t like don’t harm Russia the way the telephone terrorists do.

            “Providing for the uninterrupted work of transport, education and even recreational infrastructure is a direct obligation of the siloviki administrations.  If they can’t tell us who and from where these calls are coming, then we must find out” where they are spending the millions of rubles they have been given to guarantee our electronic security.

            At the very least, the failure of the siloviki to move more forcefully in this area while they continue to arrest people for posts online, Kagarlitsky suggests, raises the most profound questions about their priorities and the priorities of the government as a whole.

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