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Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Press links Chechens to Moscow blast
Moscow blast scene
Security experts sift through rubble looking for clues
Gory photographs and first accounts of Tuesday's blast at Pushkin Square dominated the front pages of most Russian newspapers.

The explosion came too late in the day for the papers to dwell at length on the possible perpetrators of the horror, but they were in no doubt that it was an act of terrorism and most raised the spectre of a "Chechen connection".

"It is perfectly obvious that we are dealing with a terrorist act," the liberal Segodnya commented.


It was no gas. It is war. It is terror.

Izvestiya newspaper

"The question remains of who planted the explosive device. Needless to say the Chechen theory is the first to spring to mind. Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov is not ruling it out and even personally talked about it," it added.

The moderate Izvestiya dismissed early suggestions that the blast was an industrial accident in which a gas cylinder exploded during welding in the subway.

"No need to deceive ourselves. It was no gas. It is war. It is terror."

War comes to Moscow

The paper said that all assurances that extra security measures had made Moscow a safe city, had proved empty.

"Moscow, Pushkin Square, subway, 1755. Where will it happen tomorrow?" it concluded.

The liberal Kommersant suggested that the Chechen war was continuing on the streets of the Russian capital.

Municipal workers with flowers at Moscow blast scene
Flowers have been left at the site of the explosion
"Yesterday's terrorist act in Moscow upset our ideas about the situation in Chechnya: the war is not over...it is continuing on the streets of Russian cities, as was the case during the first Chechen campaign."

The newspaper drew parallels with the situation in the summer of 1996, when bombs on the Moscow metro and city trolleybuses claimed several lives.

Shortly after those incidents had "demoralised the capital", it said, Chechen rebels took Grozny, and the Khasavyurt agreements were signed with Aslan Maskhadov.


Until yesterday it seemed as though the war was going on a long way away

Kommersant newspaper
"At that time the bandits could have drawn the conclusion that terror is not the worst way to influence the position of the Kremlin," the paper continued.

"If that is really the case, then the fighters have, seemingly, decided again to use the scenario of four years ago."

It added: "Until yesterday it seemed as though the war was going on a long way away."

The popular daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets said that the subway where the explosion occurred had for years been full of stalls selling all manner of wares, and was an "almost ideal place for someone intent on planting a bomb, killing people and sowing panic".


They aimed not at buildings or shops, they aimed at people

Moscow security expert

A similar point was made by a Moscow security expert on Ekho Moskvy radio, who concluded that the attack had been carried out by "professionals".

"They chose the place from which three corridors went: one to the left, another to the right, and the third, that very long one.

"They aimed not at buildings or shops, they aimed at people. From this standpoint they made the optimal choice," he said.

"In short, these people were professionals, or they were instructed by professionals who told them where to put the charge."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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