Is Russian Negligence More of a Threat Than Terrorism? (Op-ed)

Interestingly, the uproar over the Magnitogorsk explosion died down on its own in just a few days — the authorities didn’t have to exert any special effort to stifle it. This might be because President Vladimir Putin flew to the scene quickly, without the delay that had attended the government’s response to a similar tragedy — the shopping mall fire in Kemerovo last year. Or it might be because the whole country descends into a sort of suspended animation over the holidays.

In fact, reports of household gas explosions have become almost routine in Russia. In 2018, prior to the tragedy in Magnitogorsk, the country had experienced 12 deadly household gas explosions that took the lives of 20 people, including seven children. The explosions occurred in a wide-array of places including a military camp in the Vladimir region, St. Petersburg and the Moscow region. Those explosions occurred both in smaller private homes and high-rise apartment buildings.

Sadly, this has become a fact of life in a country where approximately 70 percent of all housing is equipped with gas stoves. Homeowners and tenants are themselves responsible for using gas appliances safely, but judging from the number of explosions, government oversight falls short of the danger posed by their failure to do so.

It is not necessary to be a terrorist to kill several people with a gas explosion: one need only ignore standard safety precautions. In the end, negligence and carelessness kill with greater regularity than terrorists do.

Maria Zheleznova is a columnist at the Vedomosti business daily, where this article was originally published in Russian. The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.