Russian President Vladimir Putin was in St. Petersburg conducting talks with Belarusan leader Alexander Lukashenko when a bomb killed 10 and injured at least 20 on a metro train, according to multiple media reports. A second device was discovered by authorities, unexploded, as the subway has been shut down.
This has to be an embarrassment for Putin, who has cracked down on opposition groups and arrested his critics. The Telegraph reported Alexei Navalny–a leader in a recent wave of anti-Putin protests–predicted more discontent.
“You can’t detain tens of thousands of people,” Alexei Navalny told reporters in the court room. “Yesterday we saw the authorities can only go so far.”
More than 1,000 people were arrested in cities across Russia on Sunday following dozens of demonstrations demanding that prime minister Dmitry Medvedev resign over corruption allegations released in a dossier compiled by Mr Navalny.
Now the stakes have risen, and it’s fair to assume Putin’s reaction will also be more severe. This won’t be handled like a U.S. case like the Boston Marathon bombing. The perpetrator will likely be found (the Washington Post reported that Russian authorities already have video of a suspect), but the blowback won’t stop with the suspects. Whatever group initiated the attack will be mercilessly pursued.
The Russians have previously shown no mercy to Chechen rebels, political rivals, and others who challenge the authority of Putin’s autocracy.
If even the most tenuous connection surfaces between the attackers and Navalny’s anti-corruption group, look for more than just 17 arrests and a few weeks in jail. Over 1,000 were arrested during the anti-Putin protests. This will be nothing compared to Putin’s political sweep that’s coming.
This is the man President Trump praised as a “leader.” Putin is as ruthless as Stalin. I think we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of his cold, frozen heart.