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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MAILBOX: More Than Bombs Wreck Homes After Blasts

In response to stories dealing with the bombings of three apartment buildings, in Moscow and Volgodonsk, and to the resulting heightened security measures.


I live in Moscow. Do I live in fear? Yes, but not of terrorists. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is the one I fear, though I am pretty sure he's not the one blowing up buildings. The reason I fear Luzhkov is because I don't have a propiska, that great Soviet-era residence permit that Moscow authorities require everyone in the city to have - or else face fines or worse.

After the bombing and Luzhkov's announcement of stiffened propiska and registration regimes, my fears only increased. And not without cause. On Monday, after the second apartment building was blown up, police came by on their rounds to check the apartment where some friends of mine live. The members of this family are seven-year residents of Moscow and they have a small daughter. They don't, however, have a Moscow propiska, a fact that had never caused them trouble until now. After police checked their passports and noted that they had no propiska, they were told they had 24 hours to leave their home of seven years and get out of the city.

Nightly, the television shows police breaking their way into what are supposedly "suspicious" abandoned apartments. But much of the time, the camera forging in after police officers reveals apartments that have been vacated for at best three or four weeks while the residents are away on holiday.

The need for such measures is being blamed on Chechen rebel leaders like Shamil Basyaev and Khattab. But is this really any way to chase them? After all, journalists found both of these men up at a press conference in the Chechen capital, Grozny, earlier this week. And if journalists can find them, don't you think our crack commando special forces troops could find them as well?

Many law enforcement officers have an answer for that. They say they are underpaid and that, therefore, their incompetence is justified. The trend among many officers, in fact, is to leave the police altogether and work for private security firms where they make twice as much. But don't potential police officers understand that their pay is likely to be quite low? Government jobs not just in Russia but around the world don't pay so great. So why is the salary issue such a hindrance to doing what is traditionally not a well paying job? Besides, their pay doesn't put them at such a disadvantage compared with everyone else in Russia. My parents, who work in the private sector, routinely don't receive their salaries for months at a time. When they do, they certainly aren't much. My mother, who is a psychologist, makes $20 a month when she gets paid at all. Law enforcement agents on the other hand are paid regularly and receive many state-sponsored discounts on everything from transportation to utilities. It's one of the job's big appeals.

So, people in law enforcement should quit excusing their own incompetence with low salaries and just do their jobs the way their countrymen do. Low salaries and bad attitudes are no excuse for human rights violations. Haven't these bombings ruined enough lives as it is?

Name withheld by request.

U.S. Reaction to Terror

Also in response to stories about the bombings.


I'm sorry to hear of the terrorism happening in your country. This has become the way terrorists have chosen to fight world opinion and have been carrying out attacks like this on American interests for the past 20 years. They have been hiding behind the Russian government for years, knowing the differences between people of Russia and the United States. We feel for the Russian people here in the United States and wish there were some way we could help you stop this terrorism. I do believe we need to work together as we did in World War II, with the common interest of maintaining our borders. Russia is now under attack by a force that needs to be stopped, a force that has been known for the killing and bombing of many targets throughout the world. I pray for all those affected by these cowardly acts and will back my government officials here in the United States in finding a way to pursue those responsible for killing in Russia and throughout the world. Terrorists need to realize that they do not own this world and others do live on this planet and their killing of innocent civilians will not be tolerated by the civilized people.


Richard Breault