The Kremlin may has congratulated itself on conquering the separatists in Chechnya, who fought two wars with Moscow.
But violence has intensified over the past year in the neighbouring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia in the North Caucasus.
And now it is on the Kremlin’s very doorstep. “We must be vigilant,” said President Dmitry Medvedev,“these attacks are always well-planned and aimed at targeting as many people as possible. These people want to provoke political and social unrest.”
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin broke off a trip to Siberia, declaring “terrorists will be destroyed.”
Putin cemented his power in 1999 by launching a war to crush Chechen separatism.
Observers say today’s attacks are a direct affront to his image – built as it was on a pledge to crush the enemies of Russia.
The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church was the first to publicly react to news of the attacks.
Patriarch Kirill called on all Russian people to form a united front against terrorism.
He said those responsible for this morning’s atrocities would surely face God’s punishment.