Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in:  Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Dagestan blast: What are the implications?
Dozens of people have been killed and 150 wounded in an explosion in the Russian town of Kaspiysk in the southern republic of Dagestan.

Security officials say a mine hidden in shrubbery blew up as a military band passed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately branded it an act of terrorism, comparing those behind the suspected attack to Nazis.

Dagestan sees frequent small-scale bombings and other unrest, often related to the 31-month war between separatist rebels and Russian forces in the neighbouring breakaway region of Chechnya.

Do you think that the blast in Dagestan signifies Moscow's failure to bring calm to the South of Russia? What is your reaction to this tragedy?

This debate is now closed. Please read your comments below.

Had Russia been USSR today, I bet the Americans would have raised issues of human rights abuses

Taha, Bombay, India
I don't know from where all Americans have suddenly got this feeling of being global policemen, who must defend democracy at all costs everywhere in the world, even if the so-called democratic government is committing all kinds of abuses against a defenceless population. Had Russia been USSR today, I bet the Americans would have raised issues of human rights abuses by the Soviet government at all international forums. I think all this junk of supporting Russia against terrorism has something to do with the Caspian Sea oil.
Taha, Bombay, India

The Russian government is walking a tightrope amongst the Muslim population in its domain. Putin must not treat them as terrorists, but let the three states be self-governed.
Khalid Rahim, Canada

My condolences go out to the families of the victims. This atrocity was committed on the Victory Day, when Russia and the other republics whose people have lost their lives in the War, celebrate nothing less than their very survival. I am outraged that whoever initiated the vicious act, has desecrated the sacred memory of that war and that victory.
Mariya Solovyeva, USA

Defending the people who commit terrorist crimes as freedom fighters seeking independence is about as twisted as logic gets. These guys from the KLA, IRA, ETA, Hamas, and OBL's gang are nothing more than criminals and thugs. These are not freedom fighters with some noble objective. Their objective is strictly gaining power for themselves through whatever means necessary. They do not want rule of law and civil societies because that interferes with the business of smuggling guns, drugs, and people. They could not care less about freedom, rights, or religion. Al Capone would recognize them as his own.
Scott, USA

Whoever behind it and whatever the motives of the perpetrators of this horrific act - it's a terrorism because innocent people are deliberately attacked. We all must condemn targeting of innocent people whether the perpetrators are individuals or states. Which means that I also strongly condemn tactics of Russian government/security forces in Chechnya although I unquestionably support territorial integrity of Russia and her right to defend its unity.
Sergey Semenov, USA (Russian American)

Everyone was happy but suddenly the happiness changed into silence

Katya, Russia
I still can't believe that this has happened. It came as a shock. The whole country was celebrating the victory in the Great Patriotic War. Everyone was happy but suddenly the happiness changed into silence. I was startled. I did not cry at first. But when watching the concert I heard the famous Soviet song "The day of victory" and tears ran down my cheeks. I was crying and thinking about our great country, its people, about the War and about this explosion. Russians have overcome so many sorrows. They will get over this one too. I just hope that the villains who committed this crime will be punished. Every man must answer for his deeds.
Katya, Russia

Making judgements of comments about the supposed rightness or wrongness of either side is missing the point. The old saying of walking in someone else's shoes applies here for both sides. And the simple fact remains that our rhetoric has far outpaced our development as human beings. Just like the majority of the countries sitting on the UN Human Rights Commission break almost every article in the UN Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Rights, so will the countries and the people involved in the Caucausus conflict and in the Middle East will do what they can and must, no matter how bloody or despicable our rhetoric would find it. Bismark's world of real politik has not changed and we still operate our world by survival of the fittest.
Kristina, USA

Where oil is concerned, anything goes as far as the world powers are concerned

Eric, Manchester, UK
I find it interesting that since the collapse of the former USSR, Chechnya is one of the few republics not to have been granted independence, whilst at the same time being one of the few which happens to have a lucrative oil pipeline intersecting it. Where oil is concerned, anything goes as far as the world powers are concerned.
Eric, Manchester, UK

In response to Mr. Shahid's comments as to why Americans "bother" to express our opinions "in these things". It is because we have this thing called freedom. It is the cause for which American soldiers and our British brothers in arms are currently fighting in Afghanstan. It is a pity that you have no grasp of the notion of the free flow of ideas it is also ironic considering that this notion originated in the country you claim to be a citizen of.
Mike Tattershall, USA

Why do Americans bother to write in these discussions? Did America win its war in Afghanistan? No so before you give advice to other countries sort your own mess up first.
Shahid, UK

This is a horrifying attack, similar to outrages committed in Northern Ireland. Like the Omagh bombing, I hope that even those who support the terrorists' objectives are disgusted by this atrocity and choose to pursue their political aspirations through non-violent means.
Jim W, UK

Get a life; self-determination is not an act of terrorism. People talk of democracy. It applies to the people of US and Russia, Israel and the rest of Europe. Unfortunately it is ok to kill others when they want the same right.
Sharon666, UK

A few months ago, an ex-Russian intelligence chief who was extradited claimed that Putin knew of the hotel bomb that killed 80 people and let it go ahead so that he can respond hard against Chechens to give him an excuse to increase his military stranglehold on the break-away republic. Leaders seeking popularity can always count on war as boosting opinion polls in their favour, I think the Russian government were behind this attack as well. It wouldn't be surprising if America orchestrated September 11 as Bush was only just above Gore in opinion polls. They used the opportunity to get whoever they want and change any regime in the context of "fighting terror", plus getting billions of tons of gas and oil reserves from their new "allies" in the region like Karzai.
Oleg Salenko, Moscow, Russia

To Oleg, Moscow: It would not be surprising if the US orchestrated the September 11 attacks? Comments like these are why most Americans simply laugh at international criticism.
Franklin, Maryland, USA

This was a wicked act on innocents perpetrated by people who live by the sword and who, given an inch, take a yard. They should die by the sword.
Erwin Saxon, England

Phil Grimes from England equates the Northern Ireland situation to be the same as Dagestan. The British in Northern Ireland are the majority so therefore his argument is flawed
Philip Shorter, England

Russia is not managing to quell dissent in the southern republics and the situation will only get worse

Peter Grimes, Gerrards Cross, England
Russia is not managing to quell dissent in the southern republics and the situation will only get worse. Most of the states of the southern Caucasus see Russia as a foreign occupying power clinging to the last vestiges of a once great Soviet empire. Culturally they have almost nothing in common with their rulers in Moscow, save an enforced official language. The situation can be roughly equated to that which the British face in Northern Ireland where normal daily life for the Russian minority can be sustained only by a large military garrison. And then, as always, there is religion. Need I say more?
Peter Grimes, Gerrards Cross, England

Within Russia there are resurgent political factions, flexing their muscles and carefully monitoring Putin's reactions. At the root of much of this probing is the latter's intention to gain political power via, and ultimately in the cause of, widespread financial corruption within Russia. For this reason there are many who would seek to undermine Putin's authority, which is why this act of terrorism probably comes from within his own nation rather than without. Putin might well have a huge problem on his hands - far larger than those caused by the local difficulties endemic in the Chechnya region. It will be interesting to see how Moscow deals with it.
Chris B, England

These terrorists are blood thirsty, they have nothing holy in their hearts

Dmitriy P, Russia/USA
I hope that this act of terrorism will finally open the eyes of president Putin. These terrorists are blood thirsty, they have nothing holy in their hearts. They have killed innocent children and WW2 veterans, nothing will stop them. We have to finish with this kind of terrorism once and for all. Otherwise more innocent people will die.
Dmitriy P, Russia/USA

Firstly, the diverse Daghestani people (30 languages are spoken by its native inhabitants) are the most Russian-friendly in the North Caucasus. Largely because the otherwise autonomous republic is dependent on the federal government financially and to maintain order; it also embraces the Fed to escape another extreme, the bloody chaos found elsewhere in the region. Secondly, Russia's occupation of the Caucasus is centuries old, why would Daghestanis blow their own children up now? I'm sure the republic's citizens do not approve of such terrorist tactics.
Andrej Kovalev, Russia

Now we will see these terrorists dealt with truly as they deserve: They will be hunted down and dealt with without mercy. There will be none of these silly concerns about the "rights" of murdering "scum".
Charles Chandler, USA

Our hearts go out to the victims' families, loved ones and friends during this time of grief and turmoil

Chris, US
Our hearts go out to the victims' families, loved ones and friends during this time of grief and turmoil. Such cowardly acts, and please do not classify such acts as resistance or struggle against an occupier because such justification is empty and valueless, deserve just what Vladimir Putin has pledged -- to be tracked down, tried in a court, and punished to the fullest extent of the law. All life is sacred, even that of the "scum" who murdered these children in Dagestan, but it seems that the time has come when we must undertake an extensive sweep throughout the world for all the bloodthirsty malcontents who have nothing more to contribute to this planet than a bitter outlook and a hating heart.
Chris, US

Ostensibly the bomb blast has been carried out by the Dagestan rebels who want to breakaway from the Russian Federation. The people of this region are not Russians. They speak a different language and have an altogether different culture. The Soviet republics federated with the with the huge Soviet Union seceded and the constitution of the Soviet Union recognised their right to secede, but the republics that are part of the Russian Federation do not have the right to secede.

I do not think that their effort to break away Russia is possible. Three years ago there was a lot of violence in Dagestan and the Russian military restored order. Trouble may erupt again and again a permanent solution is necessary to ensure peace. It is better that the Dagestan Republic is given maximum autonomy and there should be least interference of the federal government in the internal affairs of Dagestan Republic. Military means cannot root out simmering discontent. It is the political solution that will rid the region of violence.
Professor Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA

The sooner Putin changes his policy vis a vis the region, the better for all parties concerned

Mirek Kondracki, USA
Russia cannot subjugate a whole nation hell bent on achieving its independence. Neither Chechnya nor Dagestan are ethnically part of Russia. Moscow never won any war in Caucasus and never shall. The sooner Putin changes his policy vis a vis the region, the better for all parties concerned. And that includes the Russians.
Mirek Kondracki, USA

First Palestinians are described as Nazis by prominent Jews in England and now we have Putin using this unpleasant term. It is a little hypocritical of Putin when you look at the wholesale bombing of civilians in Chechnya, the racial hatred of Chechens, often called Chorni or blacks, the paranoid prejudice of anyone with darker skin in Moscow, after the bomb attacks which were blamed on Chechens, with scant evidence. That is not even mentioning the mass deportation of Chechens to Kazakhstan by Stalin during his reign. But does the world care? Jennifer Ethington make the most pertinent point here. Few Americans are familiar with the conflict in Chechnya and it is highly frightening that Putin's populist war in Chechnya has fallen under the misleading term "War on terror" especially when the supposed bad guys are Muslims.
Phil, UK

I don't know what the implications are, but I'd like to send condolences to the family and friends of the victims.
Jennifer Ethington, USA

Absolutely not. It signifies the failure of the world (specifically Europe) to demonstrate moral clarity with regards to terrorism. America should and will fully support the Russian response to this terrorist act.
Bill, USA

Bill USA - Where was the USA's 'moral clarity with regards to terrorism' when the IRA were planting bombs in shopping centres? Apparently the same rules don't apply when Muslims aren't involved.

Good point JB. I can not defend the fact that the United States failed to engage IRA terrorism. Maybe my country's lack of moral clarity on this issue in the past factored into WTC. However, we paid a terrible price for our complacency on September 11 as we did in Pearl Harbour. The past is irrelevant to what needs to be done to protect the future. We can not use past inaction to justify future inaction against a militant group of religious extremists that are intent on the destruction of every culture that does not share their beliefs. In this case, all of the civilized countries of the world have a common interest that overrides all differences.
Bill, USA

To Bill, USA: What "moral clarity"? If anything Putin's oppression of Chechnya and Dagestan illustrates the complete moral bankruptcy of this so called fight against terrorism. Once again, people fighting for their freedom are given the convenient label of terrorist (a la Sharon) to justify wholesale military action to keep them under the thumb of their oppressors. I believe you guys in the US fought a war of independence against British rule once. I would have supported you then, but I suspect had you been over here in Britain and I over in the States you would have been calling me a terrorist too going by your logic. Next time try to work out who is right and who is wrong before trying to give us lessons in morality.
Stephen Wey, UK

To Stephen Wey, UK. I am not sure what you mean by "Putin's oppression of Dagestan" Dagestan is one of the most loyal republics in the Russian Federation and it did not support Chechen warlords who invaded Dagestan in 1999. In general, I am apalled by the genuine and benevolent illiteracy that goes along with public comments about events in the former Soviet Union. In particular, I am apalled when people can say something like "aweful, but..." when dozens of children were murdered without mercy and on purpose. Dostoevsky said that there is no such abstract idea that is worth of a child's tear. A petty nationalist struggle can not make an excuse for murder - bloodthirsty, cold and calculated.
Sergei, US

Sergei (US) - I think you missed the point somewhere which is that like Sharon in Israel, Putin is using the ruse of the "Fight against terrorism" to justify a vicious campaign of military action to maintain Russian hegemony in the Southern states of the former Soviet Union. These actions have also resulted in the deaths of dozens of children and the destruction of whole communities. You are right that most of this action has so far been directed against Chechnya but it is a gross over-simplification to say that Dagestan is completely "loyal" to Russia - the situation is more complex and my understanding is that some elements of the population did support the Chechens.
Stephen Wey, UK

The terrorists could be any one in this situation. There are so many interests feeding off the "Terrorism Moniker" that it is impossible to tell if it was even a Russian interest involved. Sometimes not reacting and really sitting back and figuring out who is most likely to benefit from you reacting immediately is the best solution. The U.S. has spent untold billions on its campaign with nothing to show for it. I am sure this was Bin Laden's intent. Increasing military might is insane in a war of economic goals. Bin Laden wants to bankrupt the U.S., and is doing a good job of it. Russia should sit tight and keep improving its economy. We will lose fewer people by not going to war these days. Canada has lost more lives to the Americans in "friendly fire" then to any terrorists.
Calen, Canada

To Calen, Canada: Canada lost 25 people in the WTC. The friendly fire fiasco was a tragedy, but please try to think before just blindly spitting out the peacenik's party line. The military budget is approximately 16% of the national budget, or about a third of what it was in the 40s. Bin Laden is not doing "a good job" of bankrupting America. However, I'm sure historical greats like Neville Chamberlain fully support your approach. Bin Laden's war is an economic war? Now that's laughable. To Bob, USA you said "It is never acceptable to murder large numbers of children (or adults for that matter)." Presumably this is also the case with the over 70,000 Chechens, overwhelmingly civilian, killed by the Russians sometimes in "filtration camps" or the thousands of innocents killed by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq or by US proxies in places like Palestine? Presumably they are "collateral damage" whilst when our civilians die it is terrorism. Are you not sympathetic to there families and to the many more parents who have outlived there children in these lands?
Martin J, UK

I have to remind that Chechnya was independent in 1996-1999. Results? They have attacked Russia. And they will do it again and again. Their goal is not independence but a war with Russia.
Andrew, Russia

It is NEVER acceptable to murder large numbers of children (or adults for that matter). My sympathy to the families and victims in Russia. There is no greater pain than a parent outliving a child and I'm sure that happened to several today.
Bob, USA

Itīs a shame this is the situation in which humanity has fallen. All people of good faith from around the world must condemn these acts of pure and simple terrorism. The situation is worse when children and senior citizens, the most vulnerable, are among the dead.
Oscar, El Salvador

I'd like to point out that the Russian authorities have not determined yet who ordered this bombing and what their motives are. However, as with any act of terrorism, its goal is to achieve political objectives. If the world rewards the attackers with its attention and support for their cause, then more and more bombings will occur. Those who seek public sympathy for the cause of terrorists in Kaspiysk, Karachi or Rishon Letzion, should be prepared to see a bloody carnage in their own city by someone who thinks that will advance his "just" cause.
Ilya Lisansky, USA

See also:

09 May 02 | Europe
Deadly blast hits Russian parade
09 May 02 | Europe
In pictures: Russia's Victory Day
15 Nov 01 | Europe
Russia tries Chechen warlord
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories