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Russia Babylon / January 24, 2011
By Mark Ames

domodedovo explosion1

This article was first published in Vanity Fair.

It takes a lot to terrorize a Russian. Compared to the truly spectacular acts of terrorism and violence that Russians have suffered over the past two decades, today’s suicide bombing at Moscow’s busiest airport, Domodedovo, is too small-time to have much of an effect besides pissing off an already-pissed-off population.

Back in 2004, two passenger jets that took off from this same airport were blown out of the sky by Chechen “black widows”—Chechen women widowed by the brutal war with Russia, and turned into suicide bombers. Shortly after that double-Lockerbie airplane bombing, opposition leader Eduard Limonov explained to me what he thought was behind the logic: “They understood that Russians wouldn’t be moved if only one plane was blown up, so they blew up two planes simultaneously, just to get our attention,” he said. Limonov used to write about Russian hard-heartedness, the result of their brutal experience with Communism, followed by the nihilistic Yeltsin Era, when the average male’s life expectancy plunged from 68 years to just 56, in a free-market Babylon of corruption, plunder, and violence.

At a Moscow rock festival in 2003, two Chechen suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gated entrance, killing more than a dozen people and wounding scores more. Nevertheless, the 40,000 concert-goers were neither frightened nor particularly bothered; the festival went on for another six hours of vodka-and-beer-soaked revelry. Previous bombings of the Moscow metro, buses, and airlines have had no effect on public transport usage or travel. When suicide bombers attacked the popular Egyptian resort at Sharm-el-Sheikh in the summer of 2005, killing 88, most Europeans panicked and canceled their trips to the resort area—but not Russians…

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Here is a first look at the explosion as caught by an airport camera:

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.

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  • 1. nofear  |  January 24th, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    And what’s the point in fear? Why should we panic and give in into terrorists’ blackmail? We’ve survived Nazi horrors and we will survive Chechen terror. Those who poke the bear always regret it in the end.

  • 2. Joe  |  January 24th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    yeah, Beslan with the children seemed to get to them

  • 3. Jacob  |  January 24th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    There is nothing in this article that a reader of exiledonline doesn’t already know. Russian public can stomach a yearly terrorist attack on their soil. Part of this is that the controlled state media hardly every finds the corrupt and inefficient Russian government to be at fault. Kremlin blames each terrorist attack on islamic militants, and then uses that as an excuse to tighten its police state screws. The most outrageous of Kremlin responses was then after Beslan tragedy, Kremlin abolished the election of governors (because, as we all know, if Putin appoints governors himself, there will be less terrorism). However, how will Westerners react when stadiums start blowing up during the Russian World Cup or Winter Olympics?

  • 4. Martijn  |  January 24th, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Dead souls? I think the word you are looking for is “stoic”

  • 5. my talkative ringpiece  |  January 25th, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Domodedovo …. Domodedovo …. I don’t know any Russian so I can just say, that name is so sonorous, so Sputnik-Gulag-New Soviet Man-Implacable Winter-Cold-Hard-Monkey-Wrench. Which is probably called a Stakhanov Wrench in the Motherland eh? And I remark on this because I fairly regularly run a friend to/from the San Jose airport which is a huge, ugly, Blade Runner looking monstrosity that dismayed me; Why build this thing? Does anyone believe we’ll be running to and fro and to Mineta Airport in our Jetson cars any time now? Did it have to look that way to be a suitable hunting ground for replicants? Oh! I see now, they designed it, slavishly, after ….. Domodedovo.

    In fact that photo on Vanity Fair looks like a cover to a 1950s SF paperback, doesn’t it?

    Of course both airports crawl with goons and both are eminently penetrable by anyone serious.

    I guess the Chechens are like a spider I once met. I was just dropping off to sleep and rolled over. I flopped my arm onto my side, just as a spider was walking across me. It wasn’t hurting anyone, but then my huge careless arm came down, crushing it. Of course it bit me. And of course I killed it. Then I got worrying about black widows and brown recluses and had to turn on the light and find the body, a fairly harmless wolf spider. But I am sorry, if you inconvenience me, I am bigger and you’ll get squashed. 1000 miles out in the middle of nowhere, the spider would live its life undisturbed by me. 1000 miles distant, the Chechens would live whatever passed for a good life among them, at least not in fear of the Russians. But they are not, they are in the Russians’ bed, and they bite with so little provocation. So, it won’t end well for them.

  • 6. Igor Surov  |  January 25th, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Actually, if you go read some Russian blogs today, you will find that the public mood has changed quite a bit since 2003-2004, the times of Nord-Ost, Beslan and other tragedies. Back then, the public was totally perplexed, and the public opion split, some blaming the Chechens and some suspecting the FSB, etc. Now, a lot of people don’t even ask that much who the perpetrators were: an ever increasing number of bloggers blame it all on Putin and his government. No matter who did Domodedovo, those fucks in power have been pretending to be in control for 10 years, and things show they’re not.

    Historically, Russians can stomack a lot from their rulers: totalitarianism, greed, corruption, nepotism, irrational terror. But there’s one type of prince that can never hold on to their throne in this country: a weak one. Wimps are doomed as czars.

    Just wait and see: Putin and Co are already living against a countdown, the way the Romanovs were after the Bloody Sunday of 1905.

  • 7. nofear  |  January 25th, 2011 at 5:22 am

    You know, normal people when they hear about a disaster happening to other people rush to express their condolences. But not you. The first thing you do, folks, is your speeches about bad Russians and their bad government. Isn’t that a sign that your souls are dead?

    Before you start talking about Putin’s regime, controlled media and inhumane Russians, think of your own countries and what has been done there and how many freedoms you have lost after 9/11 and how none of you have done anything about it.

    Finally, don’t kid yourself about Russians blaming their government for this act. It is our government’s responsibility, no doubt, but it doesn’t mean we want a regime change as you would hope. It means we want our government to take control over the North Caucasus region and people from that region who commit crimes in our cities and don’t get punished, to stop giving our money to rebuild Chechnya in hopes this would make peaceful folks out of Chechens, to reduce foreign financing of such operations, and to deal with corruption and lack of professionalism in government agencies that lead to such acts.

    By the way, we do not want any help from foreign governments or any “international” organizations in that. And we do not want any advice on that from the brain-washed and heartless citizens of the Western countries.

  • 8. Jack Boot  |  January 25th, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Say what you will of the Russkies, they’re the world’s toughest honky nation.

    The Chechens are putting up a heroic – if brutal – resistance; but they’re outnumbered a hundred to one. In addition, the Russians don’t fight by the Marquess of Queensbury rules…

  • 9. brian  |  January 25th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    i find the russians reaction to terrorism strangely similar to the american public’s reaction to the corruption of its government and fraud that has gone on on wall street with little consequence for the last 20 years

  • 10. Spade  |  January 25th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    “… most Europeans panicked and canceled their trips to the resort area—but not Russians.”

    Also could be that the average Russian senses a good deal… or that they are just cheap bastards.

  • 11. Dennis Redmond  |  January 25th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Historical perspective: 7 kg of explosives is not going to scare a people who survived Stalinism’s purges, 26 million casualties in WW II, decades of rule by a corrupt nomenklatura, and a decade of neoliberalism.

    That’s why there’s only one rule of Eurasian politics: never, ever bet against the Bear — especially a Bear with nanotechnology, the biggest energy reserves on the planet, and $479 billion in forex reserves.

  • 12. Destro  |  January 25th, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Mark Ames has a clever article on this in Vanity Fair. Pretty much he says terrorism is useless as a tactic on the Russians because they are numb to such violence.

    I would add a different reason – not that the Russians are numb to violence and it does not affect them but rather they are so loose a society in terms of functionality – like the inside of an AK-47 – that such attacks don’t disrupt the mechanisms of life.

    In America and western Europe where everything is regimented and interlinked – a terrorist attack would shut down the country.

    In Russia – very much like India – terrorists attacks don’t affect the daily operations of life because the state is not powerful enough or clever enough or technical enough to be affected.

    Very much like how France’s armies collapsed when the German blitz disrupted their interior lines of communications with HQ but in Russia the blitz did nothing to the Russian armies comparable to what happened in France because the Russian armies were not that efficiently operated to begin with so they did not know they should stop fighting if cut off from HQ. That loose tolerance has its drawbacks and benefits. (PS: Yes, the Soviets did surrender in large numbers at the start of the war but mostly because they thought the Germans were there to save them not genocide them.).

  • 13. crimzonteerz  |  January 25th, 2011 at 9:18 am

    NoFear what the hell are you talking about?!

    As a Russian I want a bloody regime change and I want it now!

    Putin was hand picked by Yeltsin and swept into office because of rigged elections and FSB agents blowing up Russian buildings to start a new war in Chechnya. That was engineered with the hope that everyone would get swept up in patriotic fervor.

    Do you fucking remeber that?

    Medvedyev is a puppet of Putin who, like in those despotic African nations, extended the term of presidency to 6 years from 4!

    So when Putin comes back, he’ll be there for another 12 years instead of 8.

    Russia is corrupt and dying. Those re-branded communist shit heads in the Kremlin are not the ones to turn the ship around.

    Every intelligent Russian I know blames the corrupt government for doing ZERO.

    Putin and his mafia gang needs to be taken to “Lobnoe Mesto” in Red Square and executed on television. They should have their legs, then their arms, then their heads chopped off just like in the old days.

    I’d love to watch that execution with a cold beer.

    New blood is what’s needed, not the old pieces of garbage that are letting the country die.

  • 14. Wallee  |  January 25th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Hey Exile-Volken, I think you need to get your cunt Brecher to give us an update on what’s going on in the Maghreb, with all these camels getting angry *now* over food prices and getting uppitys. Why are the sand monkeys revolting at this point and not earlier or later, and will the Cairo Sand Niggers make Mubarak piss his geriatirc diapers now?

    What does your war nerd boy have to say over this?

  • 15. maus  |  January 25th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    @7: “Before you start talking about Putin’s regime, controlled media and inhumane Russians, think of your own countries and what has been done there and how many freedoms you have lost after 9/11 and how none of you have done anything about it.”

    Who do you think you’re talking here? Of course we know this.

  • 16. Jeff Albertson  |  January 25th, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Just so, Dennis Redmond…I saw a piece on RT that tried to tie this bombing to the “No Russian” mission in Call of Duty Modern Warfare (not even close to similar, fictional nature aside) and thought it reflected very well on the Russians that they don’t piss all over themselves like we would. I also appreciate that they take in stride the possibility of “false flag” provocations. Enigmas wrapped in mystery? meh. Head down, keep moving. Russians make Americans look like little crying devotchkas.

  • 17. Zhu Bajie  |  January 25th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    You’re quite right, Destro. Most places in the world, ordinary people are far less wimpy as the average US Tea-tard! Chinese people are much like the Russians and Indians that way.

  • 18. my talkative ringpiece  |  January 25th, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    #12 I think the point is that Russians require a lot more violence to be swayed.

    Which the Chechens will try. And I won’t think badly of the Russians for a moment if they wipe ’em out.

    BTW all, there are a lot of tough honkeys in the US, they just tend to be very marginalized. A funny example of something like this is the time I was telling a Russian at a shooting match how I’d done this and that and the other to my gun, and he looked at me in astonishment and said, “B’b’but…. an American needs a technician to come to their house to show them how to use a screwdriver!!” I swear, this is what he said, it was classic. I said “Oh, but that’s the CITY Americans, the COUNTRY Americans can be different”.

    We do have a lot of tough nuggets and small-scale Henry Fords and Edisons in the American hard, they’re just kind of overshadowed by a lot of fairly useless types.

  • 19. Sarah P  |  January 26th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    @5 & @13: “Mineta Airport?” A good one, and aptly translateable to “Blowjob Flugplatz.”
    A good analysis on the latest All-Russian Surprise Party is at

  • 20. wengler  |  January 26th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Not to promote some sort of pro-UK feeling, but the Brits got their trains running again pretty quickly after the 2005 attacks. It’s more or less that something completely necessary(as transportation systems are) needs to run at all times.

    In the US, however, everything that might be used by rich people is agonizingly scrutinized from a security angle. A similar event at Kennedy in New York would cause it to be shutdown for awhile.

  • 21. Tricolor  |  January 27th, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I recall 9/11 and I remember how we had a class just after learning about what happened in NYC as if it didn’t. American professors kept saying that we should proceed with our daily routines because fear and panic is what terrorists wanted. I guess Americans are not that different from Russians.

  • 22. CensusLouie  |  January 28th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I guarantee you #18 is so fat that he fondles guns solely because he hasn’t been able to see his own penis for close to a decade.

  • 23. az  |  January 28th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Now they’re saying an ethnic Russian wahhabist from Stavropol is behind this. What’s the deal with that?

  • 24. Alley Cat  |  January 28th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    The Russians I know have a different take on it. I really get the impression that Medvedev could put out the call for volunteers to go to Chechneya and end this once and for all, it would be taken care of, once and for all.
    Russians are pissed, they’re frustrated. They are keeping good clean, clear heads and thank god for that. If the Russians were to open up a can of whoopass down there again, there may not be anyone left when they leave. If they ever do.

  • 25. Arch Stanton  |  January 29th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Poor Russians. Such tragic tragedy is so awful and heart-rending and lamentable. Poor, poor, pitiable … [yawn] … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ….

  • 26. Whatever  |  January 31st, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    To #23
    A white guy could be involved, that simply shows that you need white people to perform crime efficiently in a white country.

  • 27. Private Ivan  |  February 1st, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Russians are cold? Not true – we are hot. We have tempers. We have emotions. We love dances and drinking. We fall in love. We spend afternoons in the park, enjoying nature. We’re more emotional than many Americans.

    But we also know how to defend Russia. We’ve defended Russia for over a 1,000 years. If we can survive the Mongols, if we can defeat the Nazis – rest assured, we know how to fight terrorists. What is a terrorist? One who spreads Terror. So if we deny the terrorist, its ability to spread terror, its mission fails. Terrorists have already learned what they’re worth in Russia – that they’re pathetic chickenshits who can only kill unarmed civilians. No point in giving them what they want, and they want for us to be afraid. Not going to happen.

    We view this as yet another attack, by a foreign invader, on Mother Russia. Instead of mocking that, try learning from us, silly Westerners. What did these terrorists accomplish? They tightened airport security, and exposed inept personnel. Ok – and we’re supposed to be horrified, because? Oh noes, people died. Please – go to a Spartak-Dinamo game.

    On the other hand, the terrorists and their families will be hunted down like the dogs they are. Want to play little terrorist? You’ll lose. Just like Hitler. Except you’re worse than Hitler; he actually had balls. You have, what we call, Saakashitties.

    You fight terrorism by mocking it, and by brutally going after the terrorist training camps. Some Americans have the right idea:

    But that’s not the majority. The majority would rather wait for Chuck Norris or Steven Segal.

  • 28. Private Ivan  |  February 1st, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Ahhh yes, how could we not have a troll acting as a “Russian”? Please 13, your post is laughable, at least learn to troll. Russians like winners and Putin won his wars. Unlike that loser, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and the losers that Putin pushed out. Did I touch a nerve yet?

    25 – did you read the article and pass the No Child Left Behind program?

  • 29. Fat Bill  |  February 2nd, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I envy the Russians their maturity. Here in North America, with every ‘terror’ stunt or scheme, no matter how inept, comes a new security measure, no matter how useless. Keep your shampoo in a small container and put it in a bag, then walk through a medical-quality scanner to see if you’ve got a bomb up your ass. We are so knee-jerk to anything ‘terror’-related, we can’t fathom people who aren’t. How can we deride the Russians for ‘lax’ or ‘corrupt’ security, then run them down for not protecting individual rights and freedoms? They should be as schizophrenic and tightly-wound as us?

  • 30. Bester  |  February 4th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Private Ivan you’re an embarrassing shmuck. Russians this, russians that.

    45% russians don’t even vote for president. People got to make money to pay their rent, get back after a long day, take a shower, eat and fall in bed.

    They got no time for politics or outrages. Voting or getting worked up over terrorism isn’t gonna change jack shit in their life, so it’s not worth it.

    People’s spine is broken by bad politics that’ve been in place for 20 years. People can’t move, they whisper “no”, but they can’t move their arms and legs. They are suffering, but they just can’t do anything about it anymore. Your bullshit is pathetic.

  • 31. Erik  |  February 10th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I suspect the thing about being terrified of terrorists is an American thing. I remember a few years back, a gas container accidentally blew up near an American airport. The airport of course closed down, television showed people weeping and exclaiming how they would never fly again and how they were heading straight for therapy.

    A few days later, in Glasgow, some wannabe terrorist, of the usual Mid-eastern competence, set fire to himself while arming his kit. A passenger helpfully put out the fire with his coat, first punching him a few times in the face to stop his trashing around.

    When the Scottish authorities decided to close down traffic, the passengers were furious and refused to leave the airport and in no uncertain terms told reporters what they thought of such pusillanimous nonsense.

  • 32. Private Ivan  |  February 22nd, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Bester – you’re a fucking moron. 70% of registered Russian voters, voted, and considering that voting’s not required in Russia, that’s pretty damn good. Usually 100-70=30, but hey, with Bester, who works for AIG, counting ain’t a priority.

    Bester – you fall in bed and fall asleep, Russians have sex, something you never will have the opportunity to do, based on your maturity level.

    And Russians are changing the way the war on terrorism is fought. By denying terrorists the ability to spread terror, something only the common Russian did thus far, they’re treating terrorists as worthless pieces of garbage, much like yourself.

    People’s spine isn’t broken politics, dumbfuck, because most don’t participate in politics, aside from voting. Russians Tsars Alexander III and Nicolas the II, and despite their shitty politics, our back wasn’t broken, only strengthened. What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.

    As for Russians not being able to do anything about it, need I remind you that SpetzNaz are Russians, and they do something about it on a daily basis, while you sit and whine on your computer.

    Oh and another thing: I ain’t Jewish, but you’re a Kike. Want to know the difference between a Kike and a Jew? One has intelligence and uses it, the other is a worthless piece of shit, like yourself. Most Jews aren’t Kikes; heck, Rotmistrov outmaneuvered Nazis at Kursk, in the World’s biggest tank battle. But you’re one of the few exceptions here. Paging Darwin, “emergency case on post #30”.

    We give the World a way to fight terrorism, show that by simply making ourselves unafraid, Terrorists can’t do jack shit, and you say we’re worthless? Take an AK 47, put a condom on top of it, shove it up your anus, and pull the trigger, ya worthless piece of shit. AK 47 is a submachine gun, in case you’re wondering.

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