Some days ago people in Russia and all around the world were shocked by several acts of terrorism in the Russian Federation. In the atmosphere of tension caused by a deadly explosion in the Moscow airport the following tragedies got the attention of all the people and their compassion to its victims.
Having been working as a professional mountain guide I work in the Elbrus region for 15 years and knowing the situation from my own experience and from the words of the local people who are there at the moment, I can give quite full insight of that. First of all: Russian mass media sources tell the lies dictated by their corrupted owners and the information in them is very superficial and contradictory. The only thing we have to form our own opinion is the facts we witness. Without touching upon the whole bundle of Russian problems, I would like to express my thoughts on the subject matter of my profession - the mountains.
For many years the Elbrus region has been one of the most visited and safe places in the Russian Caucasus because of its properly developed structure and purely tourist service orientation. As for the terrorism threat the Elbrus region was the least dangerous place in Russia since there was NO REASON at all for terrorism there - as the tourism was the main source and the base of the economy of the whole Kabardino-Balkaria Republic. But it has happened and left for us all the freedom for guesses and conclusions.
Tourists going to ski on Elbrus were shot in the car. At the following night the Elbrus cable car was blown-up. One day later the mined car with 70 kilos of TNT was found in front of the hotel at the base of Elbrus. And now the Russian TV says of a big counter-terrorist operation in the Elbrus region with the use of both ground and air forces. And the second line of the news: Putin and Medvedev spent their vacations skiing in the Sochi ski resort... Sounds terrible, feels even worse.
Having heard the news I made several telephone calls to my friends in the Elbrus region to know how they were and how far all that was true. Everybody is ok, but the situation is terrible as everything mentioned in the news happened indeed. After the accidents everything became a total mess in the resort. All the Elbrus cable cars were stopped, people got stuck in the high altitude refuge Barrels without cable car and electric power. People are trying to get away from the region as fast as possible, it looks like escaping. The official decision is ready to close the region totally for any tourism activities. The local people are shocked as such a thing happened in the middle of a high winter season means for them 100% jobless spring and summer seasons. Presuming that the tourism is the only source for people income in the Elbrus region it sounds very painful.
Then there come the conclusions. There is a saying - if you want to find the truth - look for those who get profit from that. Terrorism in Russia is not by any means a form of people protest. Terrorism in Russia now has become one of the most effective tools to develop the National Budget and to get the political and business advantages at the highest levels of the authority. Killing several people with the sufficient media support brings millions invested to the crazy security projects never to be effective or even realized – that business if supported from above is more effective than oil production. Terrorism is also used to draw public attention away from the real problems, to scare people and to push down any kinds of publicity.
As for the Elbrus events it is commonly known that terroristic acts against the tourists is a clear public demonstration of the Russian authorities position – which is not friendly towards the people but extremely aggressive and dangerous. Surely the problem comes not from the bunch of local “Islamite patriots”, who are called responsible and will be killed soon or already killed in some forest near the place of the tragedy, to demonstrate how good are the Russian special forces against the terrorists. The problem is much deeper and much more serious as it comes from above and will not be resolved in several days or months. Someone does not want people go to the Russian Caucasus. Many things were done for that purpose during the last years – leaving tourists helpless against the bandits and corrupted authorities, creating severe problems to get through the paper walls of border bureaucracy. But now it is the final lesson – they kill people and promote it to the entire world. The final lesson is very convincing. You got the lesson, didn’t you?
Thanks for the information Alex. Definitively gives some insight about the state of politics in Russia.
One would hope that they would spare Elbrus region to stimulate more tourism, but as you mentioned a few human lives do not mean much...
Looking at your short but good text made me think about my country and the problem that you guys have too: Mass midia.
The problem everyone saw about the "favelas" in Rio de Janeiro, the police invading it all...that was pure acting, theather for stupid people to see.
The police knows where the drug dealers are, where they sell the drugs, bu tnever do anything about it because they make loads of money from it. That was a shitty tv show.
I know because i have a cousin who happens to be a cop and he tells me all kind of bad things he see inside the corupt organism.
Sad, too sad...My condolences to the russian people about that tragedy, i fell we share very similar problems my friend...
Thank you Paulo! You are absolutely right as Mass Media used to cover the crimes of authorities is one of the most serious international problems of today, and in some countries when it becomes too visible it is a sign of the loss of all the democracy. Such things are happening now in Russia. I am sorry for such a subject but if we don't speak who will do it for us..
Thank you for the comment. Our world is coming to the total mess, its clear.. As in the times of the Great Flood some humanity is left in the mountains where the life of one depends on the others.. It is the most sad thing that cruel global tendencies invade into that clear and beautiful world..
I, along with a climbing friend from India, entered the Elbrus region on Feb. 21, 2011 via taxi. Along the route from Nalchik there was a military roadblock and many police. We were pulled over once. The taxi driver explained that terrorists had recently killed Russian tourists from Moscow. We stayed in Terskal that night, talked to several people and no one mentioned the terrorist attacks unless I missed it in the conversation - entirely possible.
The next day, 2/22 we proceeded to the mountain. We rode the chairlift gondolas from Azau. The next gondolas were down. I assumed a cable had broken. I did not know this was due to terrorist activity until this week after I returned to US and looked online for news. Snow cats were transporting people up the mountain since the gondolas were not operational. There was a lot of skiing activity, many people having fun. The atmosphere seemed normal - ski tourists having a good time on their vacations. So not all tourists were turned away. We were not turned away. (Thank goodness!!) We stayed at Diesel Hut 4 nights. The day we summitted, 2/25, there were probably around 20 people climbing. We left the area on 2/26, returning to Nalchik. I must admit I was quite clueless at to the situation. At no time did I feel fear, did not witness or sense concern from others. People were having a good time and enjoying their vacations. Upon our return to our hotel in Nalchik, we were interviewed and filmed by journalists. Now I understand why - foreign tourists returning from the area of terrorist activity.
Thank you for your comment, Nancy! Let me follow your thoughts. If nothing happend to you, all the mess is about nothing? But if it happens to somebody, that could happen to you... And in some places the possibility is higher. I am really sorry that Elbrus now is among that places.