The Moscow subway bombings provide further evidence of the failure of Putinism, writes Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, deputy director of Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.
“The democratic rollback he pursued has produced even less personal security for Russians than even the weak and unconsolidated democracy of the 1990s under his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin,” she notes.
Democracy and civil society groups fear that recent efforts to address the underlying causes of violence in the Caucasus give way to an authoritarian turn and a revival of the purely repressive policies initiated under Vladimir Putin’s presidency.
“Considering the unique way that the authorities battle terrorism, we can expect that they will continue their ruthless war on terrorism by breaking up more marches of political dissenters and extorting more money from businesses,” writes Yulia Latynina, who hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.
The current President Dmitri Medvedev has made relatively enlightened appointments, including Ingushetian leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who engaged opposition forces and encouraged citizens to air their grievances.
Yevkurov “really does have liberal views, but he is not supported by the law enforcement structures,” said Magomed Mutsolgov, who heads the human rights group Mashr. Asked by The New York Times if Monday’s attacks meant the end of this experiment, Mutsolgov said, “I don’t think so, and I certainly don’t want it, but it is absolutely possible.”
With the support of the National Endowment for Democracy, Mashr works with Ingushetia’s local authorities, media, and other NGOs to publicize forced disappearances and encourage officials to investigate them. The nonprofit investigates disappearances with the help of a small group of volunteers, provides legal aid to victims’ families, and uses its website to disseminate news and information.