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Luzhkov's terror campaign set to reap rewards


: Pyotr Ivanov  :

The PR campaign concerning new security measures in Moscow contrived by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is expected to reach its zenith on Friday evening when Luzhkov will say how much money he needs to combat terrorism effectively in the capital.

If we take for granted the propaganda disseminated by the mayors office since January 14, one must be, at least, thankful to the Chechen terrorists who spared Orthodox believers and allowed them to celebrate peacefully both Christmas and New Year, and only when the Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov returned to work after all the Christian holidays did they begin devising their evil schemes.

Of course, nobody has any intention of saying thanks to the terrorists. Just as it is beyond doubt that Shamil Basayev, the key suspect in the Nord-Ost theatre attack, is masterminding some new outrage against Russia, which has been his sole occupation for the past several years. But it has to be admitted that up until now terrorist attacks always came completely out of the blue, while any terror warnings made well in advance always proved false.

On the one hand, we ought to thank God for terror warnings that prove untrue. But until the state authorities be it the president of Russia, the Moscow mayor or at least the head of the Main City Police Directorate bears direct responsibility for national security in the country, or in the capital, any display of frantic activity aimed at preventing terror attacks cannot be perceived as anything but a publicity stunt.

No terror attack has happened, but who will certify that it was ever being prepared? Even Basayev cannot confirm that since the law on mass media bans media outlets from quoting him. After all, the population does not need to know whether an attack was being prepared or not; the only thing it needs is a quiet life without terror attacks.

If there are no terrorist acts, then well done Mr. President, Mr. Mayor and Mr. Head of the Main City Police Directorate. And if there are, then the evaluation will be quite the opposite.

Generally, documents pertaining to counteracting terrorists must be top secret, since a terrorist must never know that he is being watched and how much is known about him. This is, in fact, a quote from the reprimanding statement addressed to NTV in the aftermath of the Nord-Ost drama. And, then, all of a sudden, law enforcers themselves begin to spread information, which is supposed to be classified.

Virtually all Russias news web-sites on Thursday posted a document that even reached some outlets that enjoy a respectable reputation. Basayev is allegedly masterminding a terror attack that would ''eclipse'' all the previous ones.

They actually use the word eclipse. But does such a word exist in the Interior Ministrys official vocabulary? Moreover, the document adds to the scaremongering by saying that Basayev has asked Chechens to leave Moscow for Belgium or Great Britain.

Yet another amazing coincidence was that as soon as Thursdays session at which the Moscow police reported to Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and the Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov on the results of their work in 2002 was over, the FSB discovered 30 kg of some substance resembling plastic explosives in a couple of cars parked on Zvenigorodskoye Shosse in central Moscow.

The report has caused uproar in the capital, with the media alleging that the cars had been brought to Moscow by people of Caucasian origin, and in the meantime the FSB still cannot say for sure what kind of substance was found in the cars. And criminal proceedings into the incident have still not yet been launched, Gazeta.Ru has learnt. In this case, too, the incident more resembles more of ''an operational act in mass media'' than a credible fact.

And, of course, one cannot ignore the Interior Ministrys board session, at which the head of Moscows Main City Police Directorate Vladimir Pronin spent two hours recounting his lackadaisical performance. In the past year 163,000 crimes were registered in Moscow, which is more than one for every Moscow policeman (150,000). But Pronin knew what he was saying. To reduce the number of crimes, there is no need to curb crime; the number of policemen just needs to be increased.

And that seems set to happen. The apotheosis of the PR-campaign that has been going on for a whole week inevitably will be city authorities demands for extra funds to counter terrorism. What other sense could there be in showing ''operational documents'' to the public? A news conference, believe it or not, dedicated to the financing of new initiatives by the Moscow mayor in the sphere of national security is scheduled for 1700 today.

17 17:11


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