Team 29: 🎭 Security theatre

posted 23 Dec 2019, 07:06 by Translation Service   [ updated 23 Dec 2019, 08:23 ]

21 December 2019




Hi, it’s Sofya Volyanova

I’ve been doing podcasts for Team 29 recently.

It was Chekist Day yesterday, but we’re going to talk about it today.

On 9 December, we put out an episode about how things went in the trial of those accused of carrying out a terrorist act on the St Petersburg Metro. We talked about how the case was investigated (there was a number of inconsistencies and weak evidence) and about how the majority of those convicted may well have been random people. Not once during the trial did anyone ask why the FSB hadn’t been able to prevent the terrorist incident. And it’s a good question.

Try to tell your friends, acquaintances or family about this case. You’ll probably hear it said that the FSB and Investigative Committee are doing a good job, that they are professionals, and therefore there can’t possibly have been any mistakes. Anyway, nothing happens without a reason, and if a person has been convicted, then that means they deserved it. What’s more, given the constant reports about terrorists being arrested, can there be any doubt about the smooth and effective working of the FSB?

But what happened on 19 December? An unidentified individual attacked the FSB building in central Moscow, killed one person at the scene, a second died in hospital, and five more were wounded. Also, Meduza reported that one person might have been hit in the indiscriminate shooting by security officers after the attacker had been killed.

This all happened during a concert for FSB Day. During the celebration, the shooting wasn’t mentioned. Putin only emphasised how many acts of terrorism had been prevented.

The head of the FSB, Aleksandr Bortnikov, stayed on at the event with the president.

Incidentally, we should point out the appalling way in which journalists were treated: the Baza journalist Anna Nikitina has described how during her interview with the mother of the ‘Lubyanka shooter’, Evgeniya Manyurova, FSB officers broke into the apartment and one of them struck her in the face. In the morning, at Lubyanka, they roughly apprehended Kommersant journalist Roman Dorofeev – take a look at the video.

Instead of offering neat conclusions, I should remind you of the concept of ‘security theatre’ that we have written about before. Metal detectors in shopping centres and train stations, guards on the metro, security checks and other such measures for show should convince us that we are safe, but this feeling is illusory. In recent years, this concept has been brought up more and more and, increasingly, it feels like we’re happy enough living in this ‘theatre’. But it’s important to keep in mind that we have been lulled into a false sense of security, as is the case with that much lauded professionalism.

Sofya and Team 29


Translated by  Lindsay Munford

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