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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
I invited you here to hear your reports on the investigation into the terrorist attack and recent related crimes. But before you begin, I want to say one thing. I think it completely unacceptable when people announce that a crime has been solved before the investigations are even complete and before the case has been tried and the court has passed its verdict and the sentence has taken legal effect. This is all the more unacceptable when we are dealing with crimes as serious as terrorism.
You reported to me that some progress has been made in this case, and this is good news. But neither officials from the Prosecutor’s Office nor the Investigative Committee, nor any other officials, have the right to announce that such cases have been solved. This crime has not been solved yet. But progress has been made. Now I would like to hear about the work accomplished so far.
Mr Bortnikov, let’s begin with you. Tell us about the operations you have carried out.
Director of The Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov: Mr President, the Federal Security Service, Interior Ministry, and Investigative Committee have set up an operations group that is working very hard on solving this case of terrorism. The operations and forensic work done so far have made it possible to identify the bomber who blew himself up at Domodedovo Airport. I will give his age only: he was a 20 year-old resident of one of the North Caucasus republics. According to the information we have, he went underground last August, joining one of the armed groups based in a difficult-to-access mountainous and forest-covered area.
I stress that, according to the forensic investigations carried out, the evidence shows a large quantity of powerful narcotic and psychotropic substances in fragments of the suicide bomber’s body. This is further evidence of the way the bandits prepare these people to carry out these kinds of audacious crimes.
Our work has also identified the individuals who acted as accomplices and helped the suicide bomber. Search warrants have been issued for them. We have detained several people in possession of information on the bomber himself and on the preparations for this terrorist attack. This work is part of the criminal investigation underway. I am sure that Mr Bastrykin will speak about this.
We have established the chronology of events followed by the suicide bomber and his accomplices on their route from the south to Moscow. We are now actively going through all of the participants who had a part in delivering the bomber and the explosive device to their destination. As our information stands today, we have a good idea now of who organized this terrorist attack, and are taking the needed measures to pin down and find everyone who was involved in this crime.
Dmitry Medvedev: Continue your work, continue gathering evidence too, of course, and keep working in full coordination with the Investigative Committee.
Mr Bastrykin, what is the situation with the investigation now?
Chairman of The Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin: Mr President, following your instruction, we established an operations headquarters to investigate this crime. As well as the investigators themselves, this group also includes experts and representatives of the intelligence services. We worked fast over the first two days to carry out the most urgent investigative measures and the first complex preliminary forensic investigations. This made it possible to identify the suicide bomber within the first two days. The complex forensic and criminal investigations carried out have yielded objective results that raise no doubts, all the more so as they were carried out by prominent specialists in these areas.
Acting on these results we then established another investigative and operations group that has been sent to the North Caucasus, where the active operations that Mr Bortnikov spoke about are now underway. This work has already produced its first positive results. The searches and criminal and explosives investigations carried out have given us the first objective proof that members of the bomber’s family and entourage were involved in making the explosive device and providing practical assistance and moral support for this terrorist attack’s organisation.
I stress that all of the operational information we receive from the FSB and the Interior Ministry is thoroughly and objectively examined by carrying out the relevant expert investigations. We have a clear plan now for working with the FSB and Interior Ministry to take the next procedural and investigative steps needed primarily to identify all of the accomplices and, of course, the organisers of this terrorist attack.
The operations headquarters meets every day for a regular daily debriefing and setting the plans for the work ahead. The investigation is proceeding at a rapid pace now.
Dmitry Medvedev: As far as I know, you are also investigating the circumstances surrounding a crime that was planned to take place at the end of last year. What is the situation here?
Alexander Bastrykin: Mr President, we have quite good results so far, namely, ten members of a criminal group that was planning terrorist attacks in central Moscow have been detained and formally arrested now. Federal and international search warrants have been issued for six people.
The FSB has done a lot of operations work to identify the people involved, and the information they have provided has made it possible to get an idea of these people’s locations, distinguishing features, and potential departure routes from the Russian Federation. We have acted together with the intelligence services to take measures to prevent them from leaving the Russian Federation.
Active operations are also underway at the places of residence of their relatives, and we have every reason to think that these five wanted individuals will soon be detained and arrested. Along with the search underway for these people, we are also pursuing thorough criminal, forensic, and explosives investigations to gather more objective evidence of these people’s guilt.
Dmitry Medvedev: This work must continue. We need to find these scum, make the earth burn beneath their feet. But we need work, not PR. I therefore want this complex and meticulous investigative work to continue, and only after this should you report that criminals have been caught and the crime solved. This work must be carried out with maximum thoroughness.