Staunton, February 18 – The Sieve of Socrates telegram channel says that Russian siloviki are again considering playing the Islamic card by playing up the supposed threat from Muslims in order to intimidate the population into obedience and to justify their demands for a further expansion of the power of the security agencies (t.me/sytosokrata/233).
In doing so, they are following a script they used in the fall of 1999 when a series of bloody apartment building bombings in Russia provided justification for restarting the second post-Soviet Chechen war and boosted Vladimir Putin into the presidency and the security agencies into positions of far greater power.
The security agencies are doing this for selfish reasons, the telegram channel says. After a prolonged period of internal stability and their own failures of various kinds abroad, Russians are no longer as intimidated by them as they fear or as fearful of the enemies that the siloviki have always invoked to justify their powers.
“Now,” the channel says, “the siloviki are the anti-heroes of Russia.” They appear to have concluded that they can change that if there is another terrorist attack that they can blame on Muslims. Such an attack as in 1999 will refocus the attention of Russians away from their daily concerns to more existential ones and make them willing to defer to the security agencies.
The current state of attitudes in Russia is not to the liking of the siloviki. “Seventy percent of Russians are angry about social injustice,” “’the tsarist palace in Gelndzhik’” falling incomes and rising prices, and bad medical care. Given these attitudes, they don’t feel the same way about the security services as they did in the wake of earlier attacks.
“Of course,” the Sieve of Socrates channel continues, “the Lubyanka has understood the problem and is preparing recipes to correct mass attitudes on the basis of already tested and trouble-free models.” And the best of these is a terrorist attack which brings with it the sense of the risk of instant death and of the importance of security agencies.
But “for the terrorist threat to be seen as realistic, specific examples of the danger are needed.” The FSB is beginning to collect them and to ensure that the public knows they are out there just waiting for Russia to let down its guard.
This week, the FSB announced that it had detained all at once 19 extremists connected with the international Islamist organization Taqfir wal-Hijra in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Crimea, Krasnodar Kray and Rostov Oblast who were supposedly planning to commit terrorist acts in the North Caucasus.
But “here is the interesting thing: that organization consists of the Egyptian followers of the ideas of Said Qutb … an organization which has not existed since the 1980s” and whose followers “in practice have lived in a peaceful way.” The FSB and the Russian interior ministry have long known about them, but because they weren’t terrorists, Moscow didn’t touch them.
“But after the de-occupation of Qarabagh by Azerbaijani forces with the help of Turkey, the Russians special services changed course and began to fabricate cases about ‘terrorists’” from among this group” by the normal means of planting extremist literature in Arabic on these unfortunates who in any case don’t know that language.
But that isn’t important for those who believe that “if there is no enemy one can invent him,” the telegram channel says. Like 20 years ago, “the main thing is that Russians again believe in the ubiquity of the virus of the Islamic threat and view the Turks as enemies.”