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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 03:25 GMT 04:25 UK
Press draw lessons from Moscow blast
Volgodonsk rescue-worker
The Volgodonsk bomb caused much greater damage

With the police no nearer to solving the subway bombing, Russian newspapers are looking at what the blast says about Vladimir Putin's presidency.

The popular Komsomolskaya Pravda chooses to let people speak for themselves, with one university student voicing doubts about having an ex-KGB man in power.

"It was either a showdown between some criminals or it could be something to do with the special services, although I am very reluctant to believe that," he said.

Perhaps now Moscow will finally realise what the war really means?

Volgodonsk inhabitant

An engineer from the southern town of Volgodonsk, itself the target of a massive bomb last year, sought to put the blast into perspective.

"Moscow only cares about Moscow. A small explosion, only seven dead, and they broadcast special news bulletins every 15 minutes," he said.

"What about the dozens of people being killed in Chechnya all the time? Perhaps now Moscow will finally realise what the war really means?"

Little faith in security forces

The government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta suggests the problem is purely one of lax security.

"People make monthly contributions to the upkeep of law-enforcement agencies. We are paying for our safety," it writes.

"But as soon as there is a blast, we are told to be vigilant. In other words, it is up to the drowning man to save himself."

A shock for the people, a reproach for the authorities

headline in Rossiyskaya Gazeta
The liberal Segodnya, never an enthusiast where Putin is concerned, agrees that the public is losing faith in the ability of the state to protect it.

"The victims of the explosion include the top political authorities," it writes.

"According to an opinion poll, at least 56 per cent of people in Russia now think that the special services are unable to protect them against terrorism."

The result is "shock waves of fear throughout Russia".

Putin in the clear

But for another of Russia's heavyweight papers, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Putin can, perversely, take some comfort from the explosion.

The paper argues that it lifts any suspicion that the new president had anything to do with the apartment-block bombs last year that resulted in strong public support for a new war against Chechnya.

"The media and some politicians in the West openly expressed the view that the special services were behind the terrorist acts in Russia," it writes.

According to this theory, a "small, victorious war" was the perfect way to launch the then Prime Minister Putin on the path to the presidency.

But "the explosion in Pushkin Square has dispelled all speculation in this respect", the paper writes.

Paradoxically, the paper adds that "in similar situations the public's support for military action increases sharply" and "one can imagine what the public's reaction will be after Tuesday's events".

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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08 Aug 00 | Europe
In pictures: Moscow's bomb horror
09 Aug 00 | Europe
In pictures: Moscow in mourning
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