Government officials have come up with some unusual stories to downplay terrorism threats. The Kremlin just took the cake by closing off Red Square on New Year’s Eve and blaming it on a film crew.
As the UK Telegraph reports, this came as a big surprise to the film company in question, which has no plans to film in Red Square on New Year’s Eve, let alone require the historic venue to be completely blocked off during one of its busiest nights.
Even stranger, the production that supposedly required these extraordinary measures is a show about New Year’s Eve parties, so the Kremlin’s cover story is roughly equivalent to ABC asking New York City to evacuate Times Square so they could film “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” without any people around.
The Telegraph suggests the decision – made on Christmas Eve, as terror alert levels for New Year’s festivities escalated in major cities across Europe – concerns fears of a Paris-style ISIS attack on massive crowds of revelers.
Despite this curious attempt to excuse the closure of Red Square as a closed film set, one Russian parliamentarian has already warned citizens it might be better to hold New Year’s Eve celebrations at home.
Another Russian politician, Irina Khakamada, accused the Kremlin of handing the Islamic State a propaganda victory by closing Red Square: “In many major cities of the world, they still ensure security in city squares on New Year’s night. But we, as we are challenging terrorists, should not deprive people of the holiday.”
Others approved of taking extraordinary precautions, with anxieties running high in Russia due to the downing of a Russian plane over Egypt and vows from ISIS that Russia will be made to suffer for intervening in Syria.
“It’s not a secret that Moscow is a desired target for an attack by international terrorists,” said Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, as reported by The Times of India.
TOI notes that Moscow has been significantly upgrading its security over the past few months:
Metal detectors manned by security guards have been installed at the entrances to shopping centres and parking lot attendants have been given permission to check the trunks of suspicious vehicles. In other measures, Russia’s main television tower Ostankino was sealed off with barbed wire this month, additional CCTV cameras have been installed in pedestrian areas of Moscow and police now patrol metro stations with sniffer dogs.