On Friday April 27, 2012, at least 27 people were injured in the four midday explosions in public spaces in the center of Dnipropetrovsk. The blasts were qualified as terror attacks by the Ukrainian authorities, who said six possible scenarios [uk] were being investigated, but provided few details.
Online, there has been a great deal of speculation about the bombings. The timing of the tragedy is key to most of the popular theories, as Ukraine is going through a very eventful period right now. Below are the highlights:
- The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, which Ukraine is hosting together with Poland, is just six weeks away (Dnipropetrovsk is not one of the host cities, however);
- Ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko, a native of Dnipropetrovsk, is serving a disputed jail sentence, and reports of her mistreatment – as well as photos of her bruises – have been drawing much attention and negative response both at home and abroad;
- The economic and social situation in the country is precarious, and the growing tensions aren't likely to be diffused anytime soon, as various political forces are busy preparing for the October 28 parliamentary elections;
- Just two weeks ago, on April 14 [uk], Dnipropetrovsk was in the spotlight domestically, when a well-known local businessman, Gennadiy Akselrod, was shot to death. The previous attempt on his life, in September 2010 [uk], was unsuccessful – back then, a bomb went off at a local restaurant, injuring Akselrod's business partner, Gennadiy Korban. (On a related note, in October 2009 [ru], another Dnipropetrovsk explosion took the life of one of Korban's business partners, Vyacheslav Braginskiy.)
Time will tell whether any of it has anything to do with the Dnipropetrovsk blasts, but right now it is proving hard to discuss the bombings without taking into account the points mentioned above, one way or another.
Journalist Vakhtang Kipiani wrote this [uk] on Facebook:
Tymoshenko's bruises and the blasts in Dnipropetrovsk are good enough arguments for those Europeans who haven't made up their minds yet on whether to come to Ukraine or not.
On his Ukrainska Pravda blog, Yevhen Ikhelzon wrote this [ru]:
[…] Ukraine has been living [in “terror”] for approximately a year now – there's no place for justice here, politics has drowned in lies and corruption […].
The bruises on Tymoshenko's body and the blasts in Dnipropetrovsk are just an external manifestation of this “terror” […]. For the first time we've found ourselves in a situation when the blasts were directed at random people – and this is terrorism. Regardless of whether the motives were political or criminal.
We are against terror, we want a peaceful life […]. Since we do have the elected authorities, our demands to them are simple – DO NOT TERRORIZE US. If they are unable to deliver, they should leave their posts of their own accord, before people with pitchforks [force them out].
I'm far from accusing the president or the government of being behind the terror attacks – there's no evidence to prove it whatsoever. But since everyone has been thinking in this direction all at once, there's only one answer – [the regime] has done a lot for this to happen.
If I were in Ukraine right now, I'd start organizing a rally “against terror.” And I'd recommend that the opposition took part in organizing it, instead of blaming the regime. [A rally] against the bruises and the blasts.
LJ user urobor posted his ideas [ru] on how the situation in Dnipropetrovsk could have been useful to the Ukrainian regime:
[…] It's all coming together too smoothly. As soon as [ex-ombudsperson Nina Karpachova] has [made public the photos] confirming the beating of Tymoshenko (around 11 am), as soon as the protesters visited [the Presidential Administration in Kyiv] (11 am-noon) – suddenly there are the explosions, the injured, the announcement of a “terrorist threat,” mobile connection is shut off, [armored personnel vehicles and snipers are in]…
All this seems like a good practice [rehearsal].
Let's assume that the situation for the regime has become really bad and mass protests start in Kyiv… Suddenly, a few garbage bins explode on Khreshchatyk [Kyiv's main street], one after another. The city's center is immediately blocked, mobile connection and internet are turned off, armed troops enter the city […]. Even if [the Parliament] is blocked [by the opposition] at his moment, an extraordinary session is summoned and state of emergency is declared… […]
LJ user nogitsunee commented on LJ user urobor's conspiracy theory:
In Belarus, a similar story took place in April last year [the Minsk metro bombing of April 11, 2011]
LJ user urobor replied:
Yes, I do remember it. It was at that very time that the sudden economic decline began, causing discontent. And suddenly – boom! – maybe it was also a coincidence…
On Facebook, Alex Zakletsky posted this assessment [uk] of potential “suspects”:
[…] 1. Separatists. We have a few of them in the Crimea and Transcarpathia. In my opinion, neither group is capable of anything like this.
2. Religious fanatics. Unlikely.
3. Business-related criminal confrontation. Doesn't look like it. During such confrontations, specific cars with specific persons get blown up, not everyone around. […]
4. A lonely maniac like Breivik. Unlikely – even the authorities admit that this was done by a group of people.
5. The opposition did it to ruin the regime's image. Absolutely illogical. The opposition doesn't have to do anything, the regime is very professional at discrediting itself.
6. A “proxy” oppositional organization's job aimed at tarnishing the image of the national opposition movement.
7. A foreign connection. The work of special services of the northern neighbor [Russia] in order to destabilize [President Victor Yanukovych's regime] even more. A possibility. […]
8. A xenophobic terrorist group's job. Unreal, I think. People of absolutely different ethnicities have been hurt.
9. A special group did this on the orders from the regime. […] a distraction manoeuvre that has allowed to appoint a new ombudsperson. Et cetera. […]
Dnipropetrovsk was trending worldwide on Twitter shortly after the explosions. Serhiy Pishkovtsiy (@blogoreader) of Watcher.com.ua posted a screenshot [uk] of Twitter's Worldwide Trends page – and tweeted this thought [uk]:
The bombs weren't big, looks like they didn't want to kill anyone, but [the goal was] to distract the people and to intimidate them […]
Dnipropetrovsk-based LJ user anchiktigra shared her thoughts and excerpts from the media and local discussion forums in this blog post [ru], both emotional and informative:
[…] Mama called from work today and said, “Anya, there were some explosions in Dnipropetrovsk, [my clients] are running late for [their appointments], check what happened on the internet. Mobile phones aren't working, streets are blocked, the police aren't allowing people to go outside.” I went online and was shocked […]. […] Ten blasts in a row. All of a sudden… […]
How are we supposed to get home from work? Everyone is sitting in their offices, inside, afraid to venture into the street. No one knows what will happen and what to expect. Everything is happening very quickly. That is, it was happening quickly, and now there's just silence and tension…
What's happening is absurd. They killed Akselrod recently, and now this. All in broad daylight. They used to assassinate only the chosen ones, and now they are hitting the masses. The bombs went off as people were getting out of the trams. Horrible.
The total of four explosions, even though they're writing about ten everywhere.
[…] 2. The exact number of blasts – more than four. This information comes from the Mechnikov Hospital staff, based on the number of patients that they are receiving.
5. If there were more than four explosions, then it is an emergency situation – what Euro-2012 are you talking about then. No, this won't do. [Let's make it look humble.] And who cares that people have been hurt…
7. I am shocked, of course. So much happened, we've been through so much during this day… And… nothing? No one needs us. Neither in this city, nor in this country. The big guys are solving their problems, playing. And we are the little mice. We've been told there were four blasts, so this is what it was, four. We've been told that this happened because of this and that… Ok, good. But how can one live peacefully if you get out of the tram – and BOOM. Just because… For no reason. […]
Odessablogger wrote this [en]:
[…] Let’s see if anyone is caught for these crimes and what they have to say – although would you believe what they have to say having been in SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] custody?
Yet another unnamed victim in all this will be trust. Trust gets a kicking in Ukraine on a daily basis. It simply no longer exists in any meaningful way between the political class (of any party) and society. It may be that the EU policy of engagement with Ukrainian civil society and not the political classes will prove to be a very smart policy move indeed.