Moscow bomb: Medvedev says Russia safe for investors

Woman attends religious service at Domodedovo airport (26 Jan 2011) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many Russians suspect the bombing was carried out by militants from the North Caucasus

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is to address world leaders at the Davos economic forum in Switzerland, just 48 hours after the Moscow bomb attack at Domodedovo airport which killed 35 people and left more than 100 wounded.

Although no group has admitted carrying out the bombing, many here suspect it was the latest in a series of attacks by Islamist militants from the North Caucasus, who say they are fighting to create an independent Islamic state in the region.

In his speech, Mr Medvedev will aim to reassure the foreign business community that Russia is still a safe place to invest.

Ski resorts

One of the more interesting moments of the presentation by the Russian delegation will be the unveiling of a $15bn scheme to build five ski resorts in the North Caucasus, including Dagestan, which has witnessed some of the worst violence between militants and the security forces in recent years.

It was also the home of the two women who carried out the suicide bombings on the Moscow Metro last March in which 40 people died.

Under President Medvedev a new approach to tackling the violence in the North Caucasus is being encouraged which focuses on investment and job creation in what is one of the most impoverished regions of the country.

Poverty and lack of opportunity for young people are important factors in the growth of militancy and separatist movements there.

A year ago the president appointed Alexander Khloponin, a former businessman, as his special envoy to the North Caucasus, with a specific brief to build up the local economy.

'Retribution'

But so far he has had little impact and both President Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin continue to promote the use of violence to counter the violence of the extremists.

Mr Putin has warned that "retribution is inevitable" for the airport bombing, while the president has said that if any "bandits" involved in the attack try to resist arrest, they should be "dealt with without ceremony, they must be destroyed there and then".

This may provide instant reassurance to voters that something is being done in response to the attacks, but in the long term it is counter-productive.

"After every attack, the Kremlin tried to direct the security services to kill and eliminate terrorists, but it doesn't help," says Andrei Soldatov, a security expert and author of a recent book on Russia's main intelligence agency, the FSB.

"For example 2010 was the most successful year for the security services. They killed a number of high profile ring-leaders of the militants. But we see it doesn't help us prevent these terrorist attacks."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Muscovites have told the BBC that extra security measures will soon be forgotten

In fact there were more than 190 explosions and other attacks last year including 19 suicide bombings which experts say is a particularly high number.

"I think they [the militants] became really much stronger during 2010," says Grigory Shvedov, editor of the news website Caucasian Knot.

"A lot of people are devoted not only to fight, but also to carry out suicide attacks which is not a typical thing for the Caucasians."

And that means that people living in Moscow and Russia's other cities will continue to feel very vulnerable.

On the streets of the capital there is a cynical and fatalistic mood, with people telling the BBC that the extra security measures called for in the immediate aftermath of Monday's bombing will soon be forgotten and the same thing will happen again.

There is even some sympathy for the militants assumed to be behind the attacks.

One man told me he could understand their desperation.

"They have their loved ones killed or in prison and the authorities are not listening to their appeals," he said.

"But they should understand that they only make things worse, there is no need for bloodshed."

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