Officials at Moscow’s Domodedovo international airport rejected government criticism that poor security measures at entrances allowed the Jan. 24 bombing that killed at least 35 people and injured more than 180.
“The Domodedovo [airport] had metal detectors and endoscopes for screening baggage installed at all entry elements as well as all equipment had gone through necessary certification procedures and was in working order,” said airport officials in a statement.
Believed to be a suicide attack, the bombing took place in the crowded international hall of the airport. Many victims were from other countries, including Tajikistan, England, Ukraine, Germany, and Kyrgyzstan.
The bomb was filled with metal fittings and balls that increased its damage. Russian officials suspect three men were involved who were from Russia’s volatile North Caucasus, and blamed airport authorities for poor security.
“[The] sequence of incidents at the same place makes [us] think about critical gaps in the airport’s operation,” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting with the Federal Security Service (FSB), according to a transcript.
Medvedev ordered the general prosecutor’s office to check all transportation hubs, saying “To put it frankly, these objects are poorly protected.”
The attack holds similarities to a previous attack that hit the Moscow Metro under the FSB office. Russian authorities may be trying to deflect blame that they learned nothing from the previous attack.
“The Kremlin—to protect itself from popular anger—is shifting blame to airport security officials and arguing that they failed to implement the mandated security measures,” said Kathleen Collins, a political scientist with University of Minnesota.
On Jan. 25, Russian authorities again switched the blame—this time to video games. Russia Times, a state-supported news channel, said the popular video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” may have played a role.
The game features a level, entitled “No Russian,” where the player joins terrorists in killing civilians at a fictitious Russian airport.
“Indeed it is a trouble to look at the game and reality. The issue is we need to know if terrorists or extremists are using these videos or DVDs or games to basically apply the model,” Walid Phares, director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, Russia Times reported.
Corruption and Terrorism
The bombing raised concern over widespread corruption in Russian law enforcement, which causes it to “operate unskillfully and unprofessionally,” said an analysis by Dmitry Tretin, an expert with the Carnegie Center in Moscow.
It also raised concern over the ability of Russian officials to protect vulnerable locations, such as airport entrances, subways, and other transportation hubs.
Analysts noted that more attacks have been taking place outside North Caucasus. Targets of the attacks have also switched from law enforcement to ordinary citizens, in places like Moscow.
The region includes Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia. The Kremlin has continued its use of suppression against insurgents in the area since the Russian Federation entered the region to quell Chechnya’s nationalist aspirations in 1994.
In 2009, alone, there were more than 500 terror incidents in Russia, according to Kathleen Collins. The majority of the attacks were initiated by Caucasian jihadists, with attacks including a train bombing that killed 28 people as it traveled between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“This latest incident is just one of the more visible in a long series of attacks. Terrorism has been steadily rising in Russia over the past decade,” Collins said.