Blast at Concert in Minsk

About 50 people were wounded by a home-made bomb in Minsk on Friday, July 3 at an Independence Day concert attended by President Aliaxandr Lukashenka. The injured were mainly young people, although they included at least two small children aged five and six.

Presidential spokesman Pavel Legki told Reuters Lukashenka "reached the site of the explosion within several minutes".

The second, unexploded bomb had been found near the blast site almost two hours before the explosion, first deputy interior minister Aliaksandr Shchurko told in his interview to Police said its discovery should help their investigation.

Lukashenka said he did not consider the blast, which injured over 50 people but did not harm him, as an assassination attempt. But on Monday he strongly criticized Security Council chief Viktar Sheiman for failing to prevent the incident.

"I don't think that you should remain in your position after this incident," Lukashenka told Sheiman, according to state news agency BelTA.

"You are the first to be guilty," he added.

Meanwhile there have been searches in the Belarusian opposition activists’ apartments. At least 6 people were detained in connection with the investigation while one of them is a 25-year old Belarusian who posted a message on a Russian web-site about a possible explosion in Minsk. Security Council chief Viktar Sheiman and the Head of presidential administration Genadz’ Niavyglas were dismissed from their posts Tuesday July 8.

According to  Reuters, ERB,

 For your attention we offer the translation of the article by a Russian analyst A. Suzdaltsev dedicated to the topic which was originally posted on

Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view of the editorial team!

A terrorist act in a small European state [Belarus] in the beginning of the twenty-first century can only be the sign of the last stage of political and social disorganisation of society...

In this particular case, it does not really matter who directly set up the explosive device and what ideas they professed. What is more important is that in modern Belarus it became possible to express a political will through an attempt on the life of tens of innocent people…

Initial assessments of the incident may have suggested that it is not impossible to compare a ‘tolerant’ and, as a rule, politically uneducated and, at the same time, politically indifferent Belarusian to a Chechen, an Arab, a Basque or an Irish extremist, who constantly uses terrorism for political goals. However, this somewhat dubious reasoning may hardly be applied to the territory of modern Belarus, which has a rich, 150-year history of terrorism, partisan struggle, and activism of underground movements and saboteurs… It is worth remembering that ‘caring for peoples’ lives’ in this part of the world was welcome neither in the 1930s nor in the bloody 1940s nor indeed during the rest of the Soviet period (one should remember the 1st of May demonstration that took place only a few days after the Chernobyl catastrophe). People, particularly clever ones, irritate modern political regimes.

Let us go back to the terrorist act. It should be pointed out that the explosive device (and, according to the Ministry for Internal Affairs, there were two of them) was constructed by a professional and aimed to injure legs but not to kill people. The device was taken to territory controlled by the police. Consequently, the goal of the terrorist act was either to demonstrate to those in power that the organisers should be taken seriously or to provoke panic and disorder that could lead to the second ‘Nemiga’ with hundreds of victims. What could follow were political destabilisation and a Belarusian Orange revolution. We shall now consider these scenarios.     

First of all,…the authorities’ attempts to call the terrorist act ‘hooliganism’ and an ‘incident’ should be rejected. Two professionally-constructed explosive devices, which were carried through the security chain by at least two ‘specialists in mine-laying’, could hardly be taken for hooliganism. The difference between a terrorist attack and criminal terror is that the former has an author, i.e. it is always followed by political statements (or demands) or by certain political groups’ claims of responsibility for the perpetrated terrorist act. The place of the terrorist act – a concert devoted to Independence Day and attended by the President of the country – has a political resonance. ‘Hooligans’ would have chosen a stadium or a night club. But the authorities’ attempts to diminish the public’s attention to the terrorist act are rather interesting.

Second, the authorities knew that there would be only one explosion and no continuation. In any case, there would have been no second blast at the concert. Otherwise, they would have made some unbelievable mistakes: the concert was not interrupted and the people were not evacuated. And, most importantly, the main person in the audience – the Head of State – was not taken to a secure place...

If the organisers of the terrorist act anticipated that the result of the blast would be hundreds of people being trampled down with tens of thousands of outraged inhabitants of Minsk filling up the October Square the next day, they had no reason not to add ‘dynamite’, in order to have a more definite effect… This specific terrorist act does not seem to fit into this scenario.

The blast was organised in order to show political will, to demonstrate that these people might be capable of something more serious. Lukashenka received a warning: there might be a continuation. The question that remains unanswered is who are the organisers?  

It is unlikely that the authorities themselves would perpetrate a terrorist act in a ‘stable and safe Belarus’. ‘As long as there is no war’, is a fundamental slogan of many of Lukashenka’s campaigns. It has to be admitted that the state mass media of the Republic are in some ways right to say that apart from pure PR and the demonstration of ‘courageousness’, the appearance of Lukashenka at the site of the explosion has answered another very important task, i.e. to demonstrate that everything is under control in the country and that ‘stability and safety’ would be provided. The republic’s authorities do not need a terrorist attack.

Nor does the opposition need it. And it, thank God, is incapable of doing something of this kind. Belarusian mass media made an attempt to blame the opponents of the regime, which is logical, considering that the two wings formed within the Belarusian administration in the autumn of 2007 tend to seek responsible for the act among the political opposition. A pro-Western group within the country’s chief administration anticipates that, as a result of Lukashenka’s tough reaction, the Belarusian opposition should be ready for accusations of extremism and [its own] destruction. This will strengthen the pro-Western group’s monopoly on contacts with the West. As a matter of fact, the Belarusian opposition often insisted on its participation in a dialogue between the West and officials in Minsk and created rivalry for the pro-Western group. A bloc representing power ministries is also interested in accusing the opposition of connections to the terrorist act, due to the latter’s pro-Western orientation. Having a negative attitude towards a dialogue with Brussels (or Washington), the siloviki consider the opposition a ‘fifth column’ of the West and hope that with its elimination from the political scene of Belarus there would be no Belarusian-Western dialogue. Nonetheless, this author believes that there are no negative consequences for the opposition.  Moreover, the Belarusian authorities expect from their dialogue with the West the legitimisation of Lukashenka’s fourth term in power.     

Despite its declared radicalism, the marginalised political youth is overwhelmed with idealism and would never perpetrate terror against innocent people.

Pockets of infuriated and disoriented people – who could possibly originate from military or special circles – are capable of perpetuating a terrorist act. Perhaps, such a group of people exists… But do they possess a specialist in mine-laying?

We can assume that even if there was such a specialist among them, the success of the act would be in doubt without the support, even if indirect, of some ‘forces’ within the echelons of power. It is not enough to construct a ‘clever’ device; it also has to be placed in a territory controlled by hundreds of policemen. (In fact, it was reported that two policemen were injured). It looks like this is the key to the answer of July’s ‘bloody show’.

Within the highest echelons of power there is a struggle not for power but for life. And among those people there was someone who controlled the formation of some group that planned a terrorist act. Somebody decided to let them do their ‘business’, i.e. not to preclude them. Who is this person? Regardless of who this person is and what post he/she occupies, we should understand that this is a person with a lot of will, capable of taking highly important decisions without Lukashenka’s consent…