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Fear And Familiarity In Moscow After New Attack

A police officer checks the hand baggage of a woman as people wait in a line to pass through a metal detector at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on January 25, less than 24 hours after the devastating bombing.
A police officer checks the hand baggage of a woman as people wait in a line to pass through a metal detector at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on January 25, less than 24 hours after the devastating bombing.
MOSCOW -- One day after an explosion ripped through Moscow's busiest airport, killing 35 people, thousands of police are patrolling Russia's capital.

Wielding mobile metal detectors, police in pairs stood watch in the metro in response to the latest major terrorist attack on the city.

"Scary, scary," Gennady, a 45-year-old businessman, tells RFE/RL. "I was just in the metro, and faces are tense, as if people are looking for someone, probably suspiciously looking at each other. That's bad and frightening."

He says he saw one woman crossing herself as she left the subway.

Then he adds ominously: "It's probably not the last explosion."

More than 150 people were injured in the suspected suicide bombing, which tore through the international arrivals hall at Domodedovo airport and prompted finger-pointing over how such an attack could have taken place.

It was less than a year ago that a suicide bomber in the Moscow metro killed 40 people, and Muscovites remember other explosions in the recent past.

Darya Yeliseyeva, 25, reels off a list of bombings that she remembers -- from the blasts in 1999 that destroyed whole houses to the most recent attack.

She says she's now worried about getting on the metro or going to the airport, theater, or shops -- all possible targets of a bomb attack.

Yeliseyeva was among the Muscovites who reacted to Twitter claims that some taxi drivers were charging tens of thousands of rubles for rides from the airport by driving to Domodedovo and giving them lifts. She left for the airport at 7 p.m., shortly after hearing reports of the extortionate fares, and took one stranded man to the nearest metro. By 2 a.m., she was returning home after having ferried three others from the airport.

"I put myself in the place of those meeting someone -- somebody came to the airport, someone was meeting relatives, a friend, an acquaintance -- they understand that in 5 minutes their friend will be there and then [there is] an explosion and the person is not there," Yeliseyeva says. "And the same with the person who has just arrived, he got his suitcase, he knows someone is waiting, meeting him and then an explosion, he understands that the person who is waiting for him is not alive."

Other Muscovites are concerned about the chance of another attack.

"It is awful," says Svetlana, who works in a theater. "There is a fear for yourself, for your close ones."

She says at the same time that she realizes life must go on.

"I think that people have already got used to it, as it happens all over the place, in all countries and here, too, and in the metro," Svetlana says. "Life continues -- you need to work, you need to live normally. But it is frightening. What can you do?"

Roman, 33, who says was in the military, initially says he can't comment on the January 24 attack without profanity. But he does say he is unimpressed with the show of force by the police.

Like many, Gennady says he has no answer as to what to do to prevent such attacks from reoccurring. And he's frustrated at the way perpetrators of such attacks hold sway over other people's lives.

"I feel such an insignificant person that I want somebody to do something and we will follow orders. We are used to that, that somebody thinks and decides [for us]," Gennady says. "It's confusion, complete confusion. I don't know what to do -- probably don't find yourself in places where there are lots of people, at a minimum."

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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