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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bomb Blasts Stability on Election Eve

The explosion of a bomb in Moscow's Metro looks much like the work of political terrorists bent on destabilizing the situation in Russia on the eve of elections. They must not be allowed to succeed.


If the bomb was indeed placed by political terrorists -- and that is still only a hypothesis -- they have already done much of the harm they set out to do. The bomb has claimed four innocent lives and wounded 12 others, providing grisly proof of how vulnerable Russian society is to this sort of attack.


For years, with every political campaign and each new Russian offensive in Chechnya, Muscovites have been living in expectation of a terrorist attack on the Metro, knowing full well that it cannot be defended. Now these fears have been realized.


But whether the explosion was related to the war in Chechnya, Sunday's presidential elections or just a sick mind, the effect is manifestly the same. Tuesday night's explosion has unsettled an already delicate political situation, arousing the worst fears among the electorate and creating an atmosphere of political violence in Russia's capital city.


That much harm has already been done. But it is important that this act of violence not be used to justify inflicting still greater damage on Russia's nascent democracy.


Sadly, Mayor Yury Luzhkov has not waited for evidence before jumping to the conclusion that the bomb is the work of communist sympathizers bent on preventing the elections. Having already blamed hard-left leaders like Viktor Anpilov for the bomb that wounded his running mate Valery Shantsev on Friday, Luzhkov has decided Tuesday's bomb is "part of the same chain," the work of "reactionary political forces."


The Communist Party has denied responsibility for the bomb, proposing its own politically charged version of events. Duma security committee chairman Viktor Ilyukhin has talked of a provocation by dark forces in the government, who want a pretext for undermining a communist victory in the elections.


Both comments are hotheaded and only help the cause of the bombers. By leaping to smear their political opponents with the blood of terrorism, both sides are playing a very dangerous game.


Russia's presidential candidates should not use this tragedy to score points, but should instead stress the fundamental message that violent extremism is unacceptable whatever its source. And the fact is that nobody yet knows the source of this attack, unless they were responsible themselves.


Until clear evidence exists on who planted the bomb, the sole response should be to condemn the violence. Speculating on which of one's enemies may have been responsible only generates the insecurity and suspicion that are the goal of terrorism.