The Tushino bombing has tarnished Russia's international image after major efforts by the Putin administration to impress the West and the rest of the world at recent summit meetings and lavish 300th anniversary celebrations in St. Petersburg. However, last week's bombings will not have the international impact of the hostage-taking incident in Moscow last year.
More worrisome for Russia's international image, however, (and certainly tied
to the ongoing electoral cycle) is the news of the detainment of Menatep head
Platon Lebedev. There is a suggestion that the charge is tied to a battle in
the Kremlin the part of those who believe Yukos is becoming too powerful following
its major merger with Sibneft. If that is the case, it would also greatly tarnish
what had been Russia's improving image in Western financial circles. Who will
want to invest in Russia when it still appears the government can arbitrarily
take down major business leaders at will? And who really believes that Mr. Lebedev,
if it comes to trial, will be able to get a fair trial in the Russian court
system? It is negative answers to these questions that can be most damaging
to Russia's international image in the months and years ahead.