The Nevsky Express – Terrorism Returns to Russia

by Roman Kupchinsky

At 9:34 P.M. on Friday, November 27, train number 166, the luxurious Nevsky Express, carrying 681 passengers, bound from Moscow to St. Petersburg was blown up by a 15 pound TNT homemade bomb.

The attack took place in the vicinity of Alekshinka-Uglovka in Tversk region. 25 passengers were killed and some 90 were injured by the blast.

Shortly after the initial blast, another bomb exploded in the same vicinity without causing additional damage. According to the head of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Prosecutors Office, Aleksandr Bastrikin, the placing of two bombs meant to explode seperately was a trademark used by North Caucasian rebels and therefore they became the primary suspects behind the blast, the deadliest terrorist attack on a train in contemporary Russian history.

The first terrorist attack on the Nevsky Express took place on August 13, 2007 in the Novgorod region. Nobody was killed; however 60 passengers were injured and the Russian Railways suffered a loss of 236 million rubles.

The alleged organizer of the 2007 attack was 29-year-old Pavel Kosolapov, a former Russian army soldier who joined the Chechen resistance and took part in combat operations. In 2003 he is alleged to have taken part in a number of attacks on bus stops in Krasnodar. Kosolapov was named as a potential suspect shortly after the attack on the Nevsky Express last week.

The attack on the Nevsky Express is the first large scale terrorist act outside the borders of the North Caucasus’ during Dmitri Medvedev’s presidency and Russian observers are carefully watching how the Russian President will react to this serious national security threat.

On November 28, Medvedev met with the heads of all government departments working on restoring normalcy after the attack and demanded that he be personally informed of all new developments. According to Vedomosti, Medvedev had no plans to address the Russian nation about this incident.

What is surprising is that few in Moscow are questioning Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s strategy of placing Ramzan Kadyrov in charge of Chechnya, which some claim has been instrumental in reviving the rebellion by his use of brute force and repressive (according to many) criminal measures, against the local population in order to please Putin and enrich himself and his closest supporters.