News Release

A View from St. Petersburg

IMG_0198-e1491315501937-768x1028GILBERT DOCTOROW, gdoctorow [at] yahoo.com

Currently in St. Petersburg, Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. He just wrote the piece “Russians Take Terror Attack in Stride” for Consortium News, which states: “Russia’s reaction to Monday’s terror attacks on St. Petersburg’s subway system stands in stark contrast to what we have seen in public behavior in Paris, Berlin and Brussels following similar attacks over the past 18 months.

“There is some commonality, to be sure: in every case, days of mourning for the victims were immediately declared and the head of state visited the scene of the horror to pay respects to the fallen. Vladimir Putin did just that Monday night when he lay flowers at the metro station where 10 citizens died and scores more were injured, requiring hospitalization.

“But Putin delivered no maudlin speech to the nation and Russian state television coverage was not dominated by images of tearful and shocked citizens lighting candles and reaffirming their faith in a free, open and pluralistic society — the dominant themes of the media in France, Germany and Belgium.

“In St. Petersburg, the official reactions were more down to earth and practical. To ease the plight of the millions of citizens and visitors to the city center — faced with the shutdown of the entire metro system pending security searches to uncover other possible bombs — the city authorities declared that all surface transport including taxis and suburban trains would be offered free of charge for the day.

“The precaution of closing the metro system turned out to be entirely justified. Within an hour of the explosion on a train traveling between two key stations of the Blue Line, Tekhnologichesky Institute and Sennaya Square, police discovered and defused a more powerful bomb at the Moskovsky metro station, which connects with the heavily visited Moscow railway terminal at the top of the city’s premier boulevard, Nevsky Prospekt.

“Being present in the city center at just this time, I was witness to the massive flow of people along the sidewalks as we were all involuntarily turned into pedestrians to get around town. The mood, nonetheless, was calm and good-natured. …”

Doctorow’s other recent pieces for Consortium News include “Trump’s Quiet Outreach to Russia” and “A Breach in the Anti-Putin Groupthink.”