The murder of Russian blogger Vladlen Tatarsky has led some Western pundits to pontificate that this is “evidence” that Russia’s policy towards Ukraine is facing growing opposition in Russia. Nonsense!
Please read Andrei Martyanov’s smart comment on this matter:
Before lamenting “bad optics” and jumping to the conclusions, including knee jerk reaction–how predictable–and calls for “flattening Kiev”, how about letting FSB deal with it first. Secondly, and most important, before anyone starts comparing late Daria Dugina to this “blogger”, they better get acquainted with his biography, including why he ended up in prison for robbery. But for people in the West who sympathize with early LDNR militias it must be understood that apart from heroism and dedication, corruption, money laundering and other unsightly things have been blooming in LDNR too. With the start of SMO, a huge number of military “correspondents” and bloggers, many of them originally from new Russia’s oblasts, started to dominate “narratives”, especially through TG channels.
What many forget that among those “patriots”, many, including Tatarsky, have been involved in large money collection operations “for the front”, and that once Russia started to tighten the noose around those “operations” the “feeding base” for this type of “activists” shrank dramatically. I omit here the fact that most of those “bloggers” and “voenkors” have zero military education and many are what Saker called them a “sixth column”, and many are straight defeatists or, like low lives Sladkov or Podolyaka, are completely off the rails. Tatarsky fits perfectly this very same group, which has some serious issues between them in terms of monetary issues–competition. So, keep this fact in mind and, please, stop idealizing LDNR, where even today the remnants of the “old guard” are being removed due to their corruption and inability to get incorporated into Russia’s administrative structures–a “heritage” of Ukraine. There is a reason why I do not read TG channels and bloggers, unless people ask to react, except for official TGs (e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs), or get information from people whom I know as extremely reliable, honest and professional.
I want to elaborate on a point alluded to my Andrei — “including knee jerk reaction–how predictable–and calls for “flattening Kiev”. This attack ignited massive outrage in Russia, and the Russian Government is playing it to the hilt. The Western and Ukrainian officials suggesting that terrorism in Russia is a viable strategy and tactic are ignorant and wildly off the mark. Need I remind you of the effect of the terrorist attacks on 9-11? The United States did not curl up into a ball and cry in fear. That incident mobilized public opinion to support U.S. Government actions to suppress civil rights, violate the Constitution and rally public support for military action overseas. (For the love of God, please spare me commentary on 9-11 being an inside job, etc. That’s not the point of what I am writing.)
Terrorism in Russia evokes a similar but more potent reaction — i.e., it strengthens Putin’s ability to launch counter terrorism operations and unifies the vast majority of Russians behind the current Russian military campaign in Ukraine. But the West is missing a more important factor in assessing the potential effect of terrorist attacks on Russia — Russia faced an unprecedented terrorism threat in Chechnya in 1999 and crushed it:
In 1999, the Russian government forces started an anti-terrorist campaign in Chechnya, in response to the invasion of Dagestan by Chechen-based Islamic forces. By early 2000 Russia almost completely destroyed the city of Grozny and succeeded in putting Chechnya under direct control of Moscow by late April.
Since the end of the Second Chechen War in May 2000, low-level insurgency has continued, particularly in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. Russian security forces have succeeded in eliminating some of their leaders, such as Shamil Basayev, who was killed on July 10, 2006. After Basayev’s death, Dokka Umarov took the leadership of the rebel forces in North Caucasus until his death, owing to poisoning, in 2013.
Islamists from Chechnya and other North Caucasian republics have been blamed for a number of terrorist attacks throughout Russia, most notably the Russian apartment bombings in 1999, the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings and the Domodedovo International Airport bombing in 2011.
The potential of a sustained Urkainian terrorist campaign in Russia pales in comparison to what Russia faced at the dawn of the 21st Century. Russia has a robust intelligence and counter-insurgency capability that is more powerful and competent than what Russia could do 20 years ago. If the West is banking on this as a viable strategy, good luck with that.
This also expose Western hypocrisy regarding terrorism. I am not aware of anyone in Biden’s Administration or in NATO condemning this attack. Instead, there is some quiet chortling. Just a reminder that “bad” terrorism is always in the eye of the beholder.