Poor Boris. Sometimes you've really got to feel for the guy. I mean, all he really wants to do is catch a bad case of fake-it, wallow in his drunkenness, and play a little game of musical prime ministers from time to time. Instead he has to deal with this:
On Mon., Sept. 13, a bomb explosion rocked a Moscow apartment block, killing 109 civilians. Just a few days earlier, on Sept. 9, a bomb in a nearby neighborhood killed 93 when it exploded and destroyed an apartment complex. On the 4th, more than 60 died when a car bomb destroyed an apartment building in Dagestan. And as if those things weren't bad enough, on the last day of August, a bomb in a shopping arcade near the Kremlin killed one and injured 40. As Oscar Wilde might have said, to lose one apartment building may be considered unfortunate; to lose two or three begins to look like carelessness.
The attacks appear to be directly related to the recent Russian attacks on guerillas fighting for independence in Dagestan. Weeks after the Russians announced they were clearing the last of last Islamist rebels from the mountain villages of Dagestan, fighting continues. At first glance, it looks like David vs Goliath all over again. Don't you buy it for a second. I'm pulling for Goliath all the way on this one.
The rebels in Dagestan are not what you might expect. They are not enlightened Dagestanis fighting selflessly for the libertŽ, ŽgalitŽ and fraternitŽ of their countrymen. For that matter, they are not even Dagestanis. They are Chechnyans. They invaded Dagestan intent on making the unwilling Dagestanis second-rate citizens of a Chechnyan-dominated Islamic fundamentalist state. Great, just what the world needs one more of. Russia has reacted, justifiably, with great antagonism toward this conception of Dagestan's future. After all, better a second-rate Russian republic than a Chechnyan one. At least under the Russian flag you know that there will always be price controls on vodka.
Russia is not without its problems. It isn't exactly the world's most stable liberal democracy. The Mafia has a large measure of sovereignty, and corrupt officials hold much of the remainder. It can barely feed its people, never mind pay off its foreign loans. Its once-feared army has been steadily rusting out for the last 10 years. For all its problems, however, Russia has dealt appropriately with the situation in Dagestan and needs to stay the course. The tarnished Russian State has a far better chance of securing the right and freedoms of the Dagestani people than any Chechnyan fiefdom ever could. Russia may not be very good at putting its democratic ideals into practice, but at least it has ideals that are democratic.
The recent bombings of Russian civilians add another item to the list of Russia's problems. But you've got to hand it to the Goliath of a Russian state on this one. It really is giving it its best against the upstart Chechnyan David. It has taken measures to repel the Chechnyan invaders and assure the security of its own citizens. I only hope they're successful. That way the embattled Russian president can move on to the other pressing problems of the day. Like how to keep the price of vodka down.