Nervous Commuters Return To Moscow's Subway Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised a harsh response to Monday's subway bombings, saying those responsible will be hunted down and destroyed. Commuters were told that security would be stepped up. Analysts say there is little hope for an end to such attacks as long as the Kremlin is unable or unwilling to revise its policy toward insurgent Muslims in the Caucasus region.
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Nervous Commuters Return To Moscow's Subway

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Nervous Commuters Return To Moscow's Subway

Nervous Commuters Return To Moscow's Subway

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

In Moscow, flags are flying at half staff today to commemorate the suicide bombings that killed more than three dozen people yesterday. Two women detonated explosives on subway cars at the height of rush hour. Russian officials have vowed to hunt down those responsible for the bombings. And throughout the city, people are worried about their safety.

Peter Van Dyk filed this report from Moscow.

PETER VAN DYK: There was a subdued air on the Moscow subway for this morning's rush hour. The trains were almost as crowded as usual, but the city is observing a day of mourning for the victims of Monday's suicide bombings, and commuters gave each other a bit more time and a bit more space.

Many are frightened, but getting on with life, like Olga Boshagolva(ph) and Yuria Ivanova(ph).

Ms. OLGA BOSHAGOLVA: (Through translator) Scary, of course. Scary to live here. Thank God it's not a war, but all the same, you can see what is going on.

Ms. YURIA IVANOVA: (Through translator) It's not a question for me to be afraid or not to be afraid. My state of mind is normal, thank God. But many will tremble with fear.

VAN DYK: Russia's president and prime minister have both vowed to eliminate those responsible for yesterday's terrorist attacks. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin quickly assured the public that the police and security services would deal with the terrorists.

Prime Minister VLADIMIR PUTIN (Russia): (Through translator) I am sure the police will do everything to find and punish the criminals. The terrorists will be eliminated.

VAN DYK: The bombing is only the second major terrorist act outside the troubled North Caucasus region since 2004. Last November, a Moscow-St. Petersburg express train was derailed after a bomb explosion on the tracks. More than two dozen passengers died, but President Dmitry Medvedev said everyone involved has now been killed in police operations.

Nevertheless, he said security in the country still needs strengthening.

President DMITRY MEDVEDEV (Russia): (Through translator) It is necessary to tighten up what we do and to look at the problem on a national scale. Obviously, what we've done up to now is not enough.

VAN DYK: Alyssa Zukava(ph), a 22-year-old history student, wants the government to do more to keep her safe.

Ms. ALYSSA ZUKAVA (Student): (Through translator) It's the state. If we live here, someone should take care of us. We are not here on our own.

VAN DYK: The conflict in the North Caucasus has been a constant thorn in Moscow's side since the first Chechen war in the 1990s. But the violence has largely been confined to the region in southern Russia. Now, however, there are fears that the rest of the country could be affected.

Alexey Malashenko is an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center. He says the causes of the problems in the North Caucasus will take years to resolve, and security forces must work better now to prevent further terrorist attacks.

Dr. ALEXEY MALASHENKO (Analyst, Moscow Carnegie Center): They consist in improving the professionalism of security services. It means the penetration inside terrorist group in order to prevent them to organize terrorist attacks -and in Moscow, and across Russia itself, and, of course, in Northern Caucasus.

VAN DYK: So as life returns swiftly to normal in Moscow, full service resumed on the subway barely 12 hours after the bombings, few will expect major improvements soon.

For NPR News, I'm Peter Van Dyk, in Moscow.

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