Tills Close at Moscow's Metro Kiosks as Putin Cracks Down on Threat of Subterranean Terror
Osborn, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
MOSCOW'S BUSTLING metro kiosks, which have hawked billions of rubles worth of food and goods to passengers since the collapse of the USSR, fell victim yesterday to President Vladimir Putin's war on terrorism.
Under a decree signed by Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, the distinctive kiosks in and around the city's 165 metro stations were due to be closed down as of 1 October. Officials said some two thousand makeshift stalls had already been "liquidated" and hundreds of people who used to trade outside the stations from trolleys and cardboard boxes expelled.
This is the latest in a series of moves intended to improve security in the Russian capital. The kiosks, which sprang up in the early anarchic years of capitalism following the 1991collapse of Communism, are regarded with affection by Muscovites who are estimated to spend up to $400m (pounds 222m) at them every year.
But the authorities argued they represented a threat to the millions who pack the metro's Stalinist tube shafts every day. It was claimed bombs could be concealed inside their flimsy interiors and in the event of a terror attack, they made access to the metro extremely difficult for emergency and security services.
The decree banning them was signed on 21 September following a suicide bomb attack on the Rijskaya metro station at the end of August by a Chechen "black widow" which left ten people dead. The metro is a favourite target for Chechen rebels who have struck it five times in the past eight years. The worst incident occurred in February this year when a train was blown off the rails between stations killing forty people. And in 2000, 13 people were killed in an explosion in an at Pushkinskaya station.
Busy commuters rushed past the scene of the attack yesterday without giving the austere memorial plaque or the bunch of flowers beneath a second glance.
But appearances of insouciance can be deceptive. Sitting in a cafe near the station, Sveta, 25, a lawyer, echoed the views of many when she said she feels panicky every time she rides the metro."I get scared every time I go down the escalator and think of what might happen. Moscow has become a dangerous and scary place with all these attacks. I want to move somewhere else."
Many Muscovites say they have stopped using the metro since the February attack and have thrown themselves on the mercy of …
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Publication information: Article title: Tills Close at Moscow's Metro Kiosks as Putin Cracks Down on Threat of Subterranean Terror. Contributors: Osborn, Andrew - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 2, 2004. Page number: 30. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.