According to press reports, on Wednesday 29 March two women suicide bombers exploded their bombs on the Moscow underground. The blasts, timed to coincide with the morning rush hour, killed at least 38 people and injured many more, several seriously.
According to local analysts the likely culprits are Islamist rebels from the North Caucasus. The most probable of these are those based in Chechnya using so-called Black Widows as bombers (women who have had husbands or brothers killed by Russian or Russian-backed forces in the region).
Without qualification these acts should be condemned. Both the political rationale for these bombings and their political effects are reactionary. The bombings will neither lead to Chechen freedom, nor will they redress any wrongs that may have been suffered by the women bombers, nor will they make the political environment in Russia or the North Caucasus healthier.
These bombings are part of a cycle which has both reinforced Putin and the right within Russia, and has made the most crazed Islamists dominant in the Chechen resistance.
The very first consequence of the bombings were attacks on people who looked as if they were from the Caucasus by incensed mobs of Muscovites using the slogan “Russia for the Russians”.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin can be guaranteed to use the events as a reason for further repression — and not just in the south, but in Russia too.
Russia has fought two wars against Chechen separatists, in 1994-6 and again in 1999-2005. In 1999 Putin sent Russian troops into Chechnya and he was able to use the nationalist political capital he generated to his advantage.
No doubt Russia’s client regime in Chechnya — which is staggeringly corrupt and brutal — will now increase the number of raids, murders and kidnappings.
The Chechens remain oppressed by Russia, but Islamism makes matters worse.
We are for freedom and democracy in Chechnya and Russia and for self-determination for the peoples of the North Caucasus.