An Overview of Volgograd Bombing Anglophone Blogging

Suspicious passport photos of the bomber leaked to the media, 21 October 2013, YouTube screenshot.

Suspicious passport photos of the bomber leaked to the media, 21 October 2013, YouTube screenshot.

Misinformation disseminated online about the Volgograd bus bombing (which left at least six people dead and 33 people wounded on October 21, 2013) has raised the suspicions of Russia bloggers both Russophone and Anglophone. Global Voices has already reported on RuNet reactions here, and this post addresses the observations and historical explanations offered by Anglophone Russia bloggers.

Sean Guillory of Sean’s Russia Blog calls attention to the way that the Russian media initially portrayed the female suicide bomber, identified as 30-year-old Naida Asiyalova from the North Caucuses, paying special notice to reporters’ choice to circulate a photo of her passport that many viewers found extremely odd:

Why did Asiyalova have her passport on her if she was going to carry out a terrorist attack? And more importantly, if the passport was found at the blast site, then why was it undamaged? And what’s up with a picture of her in a hajib!? […]

Guillory posts photos of two different passports, one where Asiyalova is wearing a hijab, and another where she isn't. The latter passport is ragged and damaged, as if it had been through an explosion. Guillory continues:

So why the initial fake passport? True, the Russian media is under the same pressures media from other countries. They have to get information out fast, and the fastest juiciest news the better. However, Life News is an animal on its own. It’s known for its half-truths, police connections and general subterfuge. It’s well known that the siloviki use Life News to generate black PR to smear oppositionists. Clearly they–Life News and/or the police wanted to get “proof” of Asiyalova’s identity out there. But why? I’m sure there’s a much more surly back story to all this. But on the surface in releasing this counterfeit passport, Life News, the cops, or whoever once again undermined what the Russian police have little of: public trust. Could’ve that been the point?

Craig Pirrong of Streetwise Professor analyzes the history of tension in the Dagestani and Chechen regions, picking apart Putin’s recent remarks that terrorism in Russia can be traced back to foreigners:

The most important point: Russia pours all the fuel on the fire that’s needed, and has been doing so for hundreds of years, especially since the early-19th century […] This speech by Putin provides a perfect illustration of how he is a prisoner of the Russian past. And the Russian past and present and sadly future in the Caucasus provide a perfect illustration of Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and over again, and expecting a different result.

Mark Chapman of The Kremlin Stooge offers a longer explanation of Putin’s relations with Chechnya and the Caucasus, entertaining alternative explanations for rising ethnic tensions in Russia:

There is little employment in the Caucasus, and jobs in Moscow pay about 40% better than in the regions according to some sources. Moscow’s infrastructure is already groaning under the load it has to bear, as a global movement of populations to cities causes a demand on Moscow services the city planners never envisioned. Some Russians see their lifestyle and standard of living attenuated by the presence of droves of migrants, many of them illegals. […] Although it probably won’t sit well with the Russian public, the fact is that Russia needs to keep feeding Chechnya money as a way of keeping the republic on side and away from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other oil sheikhdoms flush with money and influence – at least in the short to medium term. Some financial corruption might be a small price to pay for Chechen stability and Kadyrov’s [head of the Chechen Republic] loyalty: how much corruption Russia is prepared to tolerate is for the Kremlin to decide.

A comment from user Alexander Mercouris ties the Chapman's analysis of ethnic tensions in Chechnya to those in Dagestan, the birthplace of the Volgograd bomber:

Difficult though the economic and security situation in Chechnya is, it actually appears to be better than in that of some of the other north Caucasian republics such as Ingushetia and Dagestan […] Many of the most recent terrorist acts such as the latest one in Volgograd appear to involve people from republics other than Chechnya (in particular from Dagestan). The great bulk of terrorist activity seems to happen within the republics themselves rather than in metropolitan and central Russia.

User yalensis even goes so far as to make the claim that the Volgograd bombing could herald future bombings, writing that “Volgograd might have been a dry-run for a planned terrorist attack in Sochi.”


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