Over and over again, journalists who have tried to report on these atrocities (Anna Politkovskaya, Stanislav Markelov, Natalia Estemirova) have been brutally murdered, silencing their voices and leaving ordinary Russians very much in the dark about what is being done in their names in Russia’s southern regions. Meanwhile, outrage among the people who are being brutalized by the Kremlin only grows. They only wait for their chance to strike back.
And anyone who thinks that those regions are too remote to affect us in the West should reconsider. The world has decided to stage the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, right in the heart of this seething region, as much as issuing an open invitation to the rebel groups to strike down its athletes and spectators in order to humiliate Russia before the world. This utterly unhinged decision must be reconsidered. Now.
President Barack Obama was quick to issue a denunciation of the Monday terror attack, but he has been shockingly silent on Russian atrocities in the Caucasus, and he has even agreed to let American soldiers march through Red Square to help Russians celebrate victory in World War II. While Obama asks Americans to change their behavior towards the Islamic world, he makes no such demands on Russia, nor does he insist that Russia stop moving down the path to neo-Soviet dictatorship.
Make no mistake about what is coming: further crackdowns on civil society and even more atrocities in the Caucasus, followed by even more bloody violence in retribution. Just as the Kremlin used the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow as an excuse to invade Chechnya (an excuse, many believe, created by the KGB itself), it will use these bombings to convince the Russian people that they should give up all their remaining freedoms and return to a Soviet lifestyle in order to stop the violence.
Violent attacks on unarmed civilians are only to be condemned, but the West does nothing. It is abundantly clear that the Kremlin’s policies in the Caucasus have failed, and that if those polices continue the bloodshed will only escalate until Russia is enmeshed in civil war.