What has highlighted the explosion at the Baksan hydroelectric?, by Sufian Zhemukhov

Sufian Zhemukhov
Political scientist from Nalchik

Echo Moskvy -- Kabardino-Balkaria in recent days has become the focus of attention because of the explosion at the Baksan hydroelectric power plant. It is the oldest electric power plant in Russia, built as part of Lenin’s electrification plan (GOELRO), and was a sort of symbol of the Soviet era in the North Caucasus. I remember from my schooldays the poem "Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant” by Ali Shogentsukov, a classic of Kabardian literature, which contains lines whose poetic quality even their ideological load could not conceal: 

Your star, Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant, 
Pointed out to us the road to progress. 
You illuminated with your fires 
The path of Lenin before us. 

But what has now been illuminated by the explosion that rocked the Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant at dawn on July 21? There is a lot of talk about this event. Every day new versions appear in the media. But the inhabitants of the republic discuss only one version: how is this connected with the appointment of a head of the republic scheduled for September? President of the KBR Arsen Kanokov himself said in a recent statement that extremists have resumed their activity: “They have a definite goal and are financed by certain circles in order to influence the reappointment of the president." 

Indeed, recent months in Kabardino-Balkaria have seen a succession of explosions and murders of police officers. Just before the explosion at the Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant, there was a series of terrorist acts: an explosion at a nightclub, shootings at the buildings of two district police stations, the killing of several law enforcement officers. Over the past two months in the KBR there have been about 30 terrorist acts - that is, practically every other day there has been an explosion or a shooting of representatives of the power structures. 

Two things have drawn special attention to the explosion at the Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant. First, the immediate reaction from the country's leadership. TV channels in the KBR feature statements made on federal TV channels: Dmitry Medvedev ordered the conduct of an investigation, Vladimir Putin instructed Deputy Prime Minister Sechin to ensure the uninterrupted supply of electric power. In the context of the upcoming reappointment of the president of the republic, many people regard this attention from the two top state officials as a sign that acquires great significance in such circumstances. 

In addition, there is discussion of the fact that this is the first terrorist act in Kabardino-Balkaria in which an object vital to the republic’s life support system has been exploded. Up to now inhabitants of the republic have perceived terrorist acts in light of the confrontation between the Muslim community and the law enforcement agencies that led to the open and organized armed clash on October 13, 2005 in Nalchik and continues to this day. But the explosion of such a large non-military object as the Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant, which does not fit into this grim but understandable logic, was something that the inhabitants of Kabardino-Balkaria did not expect, so they are now alarmed and agitated. 

All that the inhabitants of the republic can do is to remain patient: "There is not long to wait until September, let’s hope that then this will all end" - people say. But I think that if it is all to do with the reappointment of the head of the republic, if because of this people die and hydroelectric power plants are blown up, perhaps it is not worth waiting another whole two months? It is well known that the country's leadership do not usually act with haste in making personnel decisions, and surely the question of who will be head of the region has been decided in advance. Why should the federal center not take advantage of the terrorist act at the Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant and conduct an anti-terrorist operation under the name "preterm appointment of the President of the KBR”?

Translated by Stephen D. Shenfield

Source: Echo Moskvy (Суфьян Жемухов, политолог из Нальчика : Что высветил взрыв на Баксанской ГЭС?)