Two explosions rocked the Moscow metro on Monday morning, killing more than 30 people and injuring dozens more, according to official sources. Spokesmen for law enforcement agencies described them as a carefully planned terrorist attack.
The strike was dealt with brutal precision in order to produce as many victims as possible. On the first day of a working week, during the rush hour - between eight and nine a.m. - when thousands of people in the city are traveling to work. What is more, they chose two of the busiest change stations on the same line. Both of them are in the heart of the capital.
Why did this happen today? The attacks could have happened last week or next week. They are not tied to any date or anniversary. We needn't look for any logic there. The trouble is that both last week and next week we would have found ourselves equally unprepared for this tragedy. "We" in this case refers to all of us: special services, city authorities and everyone who lives in or is visiting the capital. Everyone except those who have taken a long time to carefully engineer the tragedy.
This metropolis with its millions of people is powerless before terrorists. It is impossible to seal all directions, all entries and exits, all public places. It is impossible to check every metro passenger. If metal detectors are installed at all stations and start to inspect the passengers, the city will grind to a halt.
No matter how effective and professionally competent the security agencies might be, they are not in a position to prevent every threat. Even in smaller states like Israel, whose residents live with an inborn expectation of terrorist attacks, where practically every door is closely guarded, there are occasional failures. Blasts tear through cafes, bus stops and night clubs. What then can be said of this vast country and a huge city like Moscow?
Does that mean that no one can do anything, and all that remains to us is to passively wait for trouble to come? No, it doesn't. Such an approach is equivalent to a piece of black humor advice: In case of a nuclear explosion cover yourself and start crawling towards a cemetery. But you can protect yourself against standard terrorist acts, unlike nuclear explosions. Certainly, there is no 100% guarantee. But every opportunity must be exploited to minimize the deadly risk.
What must not be done is to place all responsibility for our security on city services, the Emergencies Ministry, the Federal Security Service, on officials and law enforcement agencies. We must take precautions ourselves. Regrettably, such is the reality of life. In this sense, life in Moscow is no less and no more dangerous than in any metropolis. The danger lurks on the streets, in the metro and its myriad of public places.
An emergency situation can occur at any moment and one has to be always prepared for it. And not only mentally. You should carry personal identification papers on you, have information on your blood type, and a notebook with telephone numbers to call or contact in case your mobile is damaged.
Many of our offices hold regular fire drills for their personnel. These are usually taken with a grain of salt and treated as a formality. And when disaster strikes such lack of forethought now and again backfires with tragic consequences.
As practice shows, terrorist attacks in public places take place as often as fires in offices. So why not hold drills for explosion warnings? People need to know where to run, what to do and how to keep themselves safe. Certainly not everything can be foreseen, but this does not mean we should give up in despair and do nothing.
Inactivity spells impotence. The fact is that we cannot put up anything against our strange brand of terrorists, the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. They always try to remain anonymous and make no political demands. This is more terrible than the notorious Russian "rebellion." When a series of detonations causes a huge city to shudder and collapse and its residents to flee in panic, such acts must rightly be called ruthless, though, unfortunately, they are not senseless.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Nikolai Troitsky)