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Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 12:53 UK

Russia media criticise Kremlin over Moscow Metro bombs

Davet's blog post on the Moscow bombings, 29 March
Russians were getting their news from blogs like Davete's

Amid outrage over suicide bomb attacks on Moscow's Metro, sections of Russia's press have been scathing about what they see as the Kremlin's failure to protect or even inform citizens.

With nearly 40 people dead and 70 injured at stations in the heart of the Russian capital, several newspapers railed at the authorities, criticising the state-controlled TV channels for inadequate coverage.

"Why didn't senior officials... talk to people through one of the main federal channels to stop them from going into the Metro and to prevent panic?" asked writer Vadim Rechkalov in the popular daily Moskvosky Komsomolets.

"Instead, from the moment when the first blast took place and till 0900 [0600 BST], the leading federal channels showed people singing, dancing, making breakfast and relieving pain with their hands."

As people sought out information for themselves, Russian bloggers and social networking sites came into their own.

Demand for online news rose almost seven-fold on Monday, according to the country's largest search engine, Yandex.

'Defenceless'

"The main lesson that ordinary Russians should draw from this tragedy is that the authorities and the people exist separately from each other," the Moskovsky Komsomolets journalist said.

"If you are not prepared to die like cattle, be ready to defend yourself. Rely only on yourself. In this way, you will be able to save your own life and the life of your country."

An editorial in the business daily Vedomosti said Russia's security forces had failed to learn from previous attacks such as the Moscow theatre siege and Beslan.

It accused the FSB security service and others of clinging to an outdated concept of anti-terrorism based on taking on large armed groups.

A commentary in the online newspaper gazeta.ru said citizens remained "defenceless in the face of terrorist attack despite all the promises of the authorities to ensure their safety".

Creating a metaphor from the Moscow Metro, the news site predicted Russia would "go on living on the Circle Line of terrorist attacks" until it realised the reasons for the attacks lay in the country's internal problems.

Chewing gum

At least one blogger, "Davete", carried an eyewitness account of the attacks, posting it 40 minutes after the second blast.

He described how he had heard the second bomb go off behind him at 0836 local time (0536 BST) as he was leaving Park Kultury station.

Anton Nossik, one of Russia's best-known bloggers, was among those who noted the near-silence of the state-controlled TV channels hours after the explosions.

Surfing them at 1130 local time (0830 BST), he found normal daytime TV still in full flow on most, at a time when foreign networks were reporting live from Moscow.

Coming across a special news bulletin on the bombings - on the Russia TV channel - he found even it being interrupted by a commercial break.

The channel, he noted, did file live reports from the site of one of the blasts and a hospital, before its coverage was broken by adverts for furniture, chewing gum and liposuction.



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