Two bombings in 24 hours devastate Volgograd ahead of Winter Olympics
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Just days after Vladimir Putin played out his carefully choreographed pardons for Pussy Riot, the Greenpeace activists and Mikhail Khordokovsky to cultivate a reassuring facade for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, the city of Volgograd has been devastated by two bombs in less than 24 hours.
Just hours after a suicide bomb at the main train station left at least 17 people dead, another suicide bomber detonated a device on a trolleybus during the morning rush hour. At least 14 people are feared dead in this latest tragedy.
It is the third bombing attack in Volgograd in as many months. Volgograd is just north of the volatile South Caucuses which has seen so much strife between the Russian state and Islamist groups. It is also profoundly symbolic as it is the city formerly known as Stallingrad, site of World War Two’s bloodiest battle and where the tide turned against the Nazi invasion.
The Chechen jihadist leader Doku Umarov had pledged to disrupt the Olympics, due to start in 6 weeks and appears thus far to be making good on his threat.
Local news reported that people in Volgograd, a city of more than 1 million inhabitants, were avoiding public transport and walking to work on foot.
"For the second day, we are dying – it's a nightmare," a woman near the scene told Reuters "What are we supposed to do – just walk now?"
A wave of revulsion has spread across Russia, with many fearing that the Volgograd attacks could be only the start of a concentrated and widespread campaign to traumatise the country at a time of national pride. The writer Sergey Minayev tweeted "It's like someone has declared a war on us,"
In a video posted on the web in July, Umarov urged followers and fellow militants to use "maximum force" to prevent the games from being held.