''Earlier we had mine disposal and clearances but without blasts, of course''
Famous Rostov political expert about the reaction of citizens to the blast of a bomb that looked like a torch, a further crackdown and terrorist attacks in Saint Petersburg
A blast exploded in the centre of Rostov on Don on 6 April – a handmade bomb disguised in a torch exploded in a man's hands. Realnoe Vremya reached out to famous Rostov political expert Vladislav Volkov who told whether this incident can be bracketed with the terrorist attacks in Petersburg, if special service members knew about the brewing explosion and how the city reacted to what had happened.
''Mates, be careful, very cautious. Rostov is an uneasy situation''
Vladislav, the blast of a handmade bomb in the centre of Rostov became known several hours later. Can you tell any details?
I will say for general understanding that School No. 5 (Editor's Note: the blast took place near it) is a mathematical school in Rostov. It has a high standing, it is in the heart of the city in front of the medical institute. Moreover, it is an old calm centre – almost Nakhichevan (Editor's Note: part of Rostov's Proletarsky District).
I received information one or two days before that our special service members were preventing something similar. At least, my personal sources said: ''Mates, be careful, very cautious. Rostov is an uneasy situation''. Undoubtedly, I feel pity for the person who was injured because of the blast much. But, thank God, there were few casualties and it was early in the morning. The thing is that kids start going to school from 9 o'clock, I think, often by foot. If this person had not sacrificed himself, there would have been more victims.
''Undoubtedly, I feel pity for the person who was injured because of the blast much. But, thank God, there were few casualties and it was early in the morning.'' Photo: vsedomarossii.ru
It is clear there was no estimation on 6 April. But do you think that we can bracket this incident with the terrorist attack in Saint Petersburg?
I would not go ahead of time. Even an everyday story can turn into a terrorist attack if all people are tuned for a certain event, you know. So I would not give any opinion. But I think citizens of Rostov will certainly consider it as a signal of a very big danger.
People were calling each other since morning, everyone was on edge. As you understand, mummies react first – they have already assessed the situation (laughing). But let's wait to say whether it was a terrorist attack. I think our law enforcement agencies won't drag on.
What does the atmosphere in the city look like now? Is the reaction of the local government known?
As far as I am concerned, everything is fine at schools, kids study. In general, all schools have modern protection equipment, there are separated from the streets and the roads – you won't approach them easily. In this respect, by the way, School No. 5 is not in a very good situation: it is in the centre almost without any separate territory, there are easy ways to get to it.
At the moment I can't say about the reaction of the city government. It has never been fast. You need to understand that Rostov is a city that is going to host the Football World Cup next year, and this kind of events is very serious for us because they have certain reputational risks. If it is admitted to have been a terrorist attack, it is quite possible to result in some conclusions of the cup organisers and guests, of course. The stadium is, by the way, not far from the place where the torch was found.
''It is an echo of Syria, the opposition to the Islamic world, that is to say, its radical part that sees nothing but jihad''
''Earlier we had mine disposal and clearances but without blasts, of course. Maybe it is explained by our multi-ethnic city where people get on with''
Have Rostov ever had terrorist attacks?
The most noticeable terrorist attack was in Volgodonsk – it a city in Rostov Oblast, which has a nuclear power plant. Probably it was more attractive than Rostov due to the nuclear power plant. A 9-storeyed block of flats was bombed in 2007 (if I am not mistaken), there were many victims.
It passed very Rostov by. Earlier we had mine disposal and clearances but without blasts, of course. Maybe it is explained by our multi-ethnic city where people get on with. In my opinion, those people who plan such things have switched their focus to Sochi in recent time. In the shadow of Sochi, Rostov always emerged unscathed.
Many presuppositions have appeared after the terrorist attack in Petersburg: somebody linked the incident with protests, somebody saw an implication of the Kremlin, somebody accused Ukraine. What do you think about these versions? Do you have presuppositions about Rostov?
I am not inclined to see the implication of the Kremlin, it is too far. I think it is unlikely. I think it is an echo of Syria, the opposition to the Islamic world, that is to say, its radical part that sees nothing but jihad. In Rostov, we got used to living with Muslims, we don't have any problems with it. Here is a mosque, please, welcome. But we also see radical Muslims, they are present here as a social phenomenon.
As for Rostov, I don't have versions because I don't have a fact that would enable to create a version.
''We can't say: ''The device was found in such a disorder''. This disorder has nothing to do with the government, it has always been present.'' Photo: don24.ru
''Rostov has always been a city with many weapons and people who are ready to use them''
There is an opinion that there have been many crimes in Rostov after the Ukrainian events, there are many weapons. Is it true?
Rostov has always been a city with many weapons and people who are ready to use them. But the Ukrainian events really affected us because we are close, and border crossing was never complicated a lot (now it is more difficult, of course). People in neighbouring Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics can be interested in creation of bases here for some reasons, they had all possibilities to do it for their personal goals. I think this is why the number of people who did not care about law in general and don't consider themselves as victims increased.
But it is a general feeling. From my personal experience, a great deal of people coming here from LPR and DPR were very useful for Rostov Oblast. Few people talk about it, but it is true. People who are not ready to go to war came here – they are artists and scientists. For instance, countryside schools finally got good Physics and Maths teachers thanks to their move. I don't feel that Rostov has been more criminal. Just focuses have changed.
Vladislav, what consequences should we be waiting for at the level of regional, municipal and local citizens?
Rostov's city manager has been appointed recently, you know. He has just started to work. This is why the consequences are unlikely to affect him. As for the governor of Rostov Oblast… He is famous for his links with special service members, he comes from Moscow Oblast, from a territory where the Ministry for Emergency, former militants and others feel good. Organisational conclusions are unlikely to affect him – we did not have Saint Isaac's Cathedral, there was nothing remarkable. It is rather a common disaster than a reason to take it out on them.
Rostov in itself is an eastern city, a crossing of cultures. It is not Petersburg… Although people says Petersburg will leave anybody behind in terms of radical Islam, including Kazan. Nevertheless, Rostov has always been a bazaar city with a constant disorder – everybody got used to it. I mean we can't say: ''The device was found in such a disorder''. This disorder has nothing to do with the government, it has always been present.
''Security at our schools is very strict. The Rostov airport also examines all people – there is no tolerance towards passengers like in Moscow. I just don't know how to tighten carriages, to tell the truth.'' Photo: rbk.ru
It is a good question how security measures will be tightened. All these terrorist attacks require an answer. I don't know how it will happen this time. But it seems that security will be stricter – they check passports, it is unreal to bring something to a school without passing control. The Rostov airport also examines all people – there is no loyalty towards passengers like in Moscow. I just don't know how to tighten carriages, to tell the truth. But our region is very transparent from a transport perspective. It is clear that if something is brought, it won't arrive by plane. We will hope the answers of security workers will be tit-for-tat and won't go too far.