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Domodedovo conspiracy theories highlight lack of trust in Russian authorities

Special Security Forces with Dogs Outside Moscow Airport After AttackAnother terrorist outrage in Moscow is a stark reminder of the failures of both sides of Russia's ruling tandem.

While yesterday's suicide bombing at Domodedovo airport is likely to prompt another round of security spending and crackdowns, analysts say the real issues run far deeper.
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And while conspiracy theories begin to swirl about how the blast might affect the 2012 presidential campaign, some argue that it exposes the flaws of both Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

Lack of trust

Barely had the dust settled than the internet was awash with suggestions that the attacks had been orchestrated by the authorities.

And Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama independent think-tank, said this highlighted the lack of trust that society has in its rulers.

"I have already seen on the internet that some people are saying that the authorities have something to do with it," he told The Moscow News. "That it is a beginning of Putin's election campaign, an excuse for him to return to power. Such an opinion exists.

"The advanced parts of the society do not believe anything the authorities say, which is why such a theory occurs."

No advantage

Fellow analyst Nikolai Petrov, from Moscow's Carnegie Center, agreed that the conspiracy theories underlined a lack of faith in the elite.

But he argued that neither Putin nor Medvedev could derive much benefit from Monday's carnage.

"In my mind it's bad for Medvedev in terms of making his agenda even less supported by society," Petrov said by telephone.

"But it's also bad for Putin: it shows that his approach and his promise to eradicate terror and protect society isn't working well either."

Nationalist upsurge

Coming barely a month after nationalist riots in Moscow, a terrorist attack associated with the North Caucasus is likely to inflame ethnic tensions further.

"This is a bad time for rational and quiet contemplation," Petrov added. "It's connected to the fact that, to create a kind of negative mobilization for their supporters, the authorities need to provide the image of an enemy.

"[The attack] will add to the tension: there's a temptation for different forces to exploit the understandable feelings of the public to gain political benefits."

And while Pribylovsky said there was no direct link between the recent riots and the latest terror attack, it was part of an on-going "war" between insurgents and special forces in the North Caucasus.

"There are no reasons for this to end," he stately bleakly.

Heightened risk?

While Pribylovsky expects further attacks, Petrov is more cautious ­ at least as far as dangers within Moscow are concerned.

"It seems to me that this is a pretty unique one-off attack, even though it's large scale," he said. "Recent experience suggests that nothing will follow immediately."

In previous years, large attacks in Moscow have been isolated: prior to Monday's bombing the most recent incident was the metro attack of March 29, 2010.

But in the late 90s and early 2000s there was a tendency towards waves of attacks, such as the pair of Sep. 1999 apartment block bombings which were widely seen as the trigger for the second Chechen war.

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