President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Today I have signed a special order in connection with the terrorist attack on our railways. It touches on different areas, including social and economic issues, which I have already discussed with the Government Cabinet, as well as issues related to rail safety and more general security concerns. It will be submitted to you with strict deadlines for its implementation. I would like you to abide by them.
Let’s discuss the current situation, the investigation of the crime itself. Perhaps it would be best to have Mr Bastrykin’s report, then Mr Bortnikov’s. Please go ahead.
Chairman of the Prosecutor General’S office Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin: Mr President, I have just returned from a meeting with staff at the scene of the accident. We have completed the inspection of the scene where the accident took place, and now we run all necessary medical, forensic and explosives expert examinations. Several hundred people from Russia’s Interior Ministry and Federal Security Services [FSB] are combing the area for suspicious persons. We have identified the victims, interviewed over 400 eyewitnesses and bystanders, and promptly acquired important information regarding those persons who may be guilty of this crime.
In addition to staff working at the scene, similar units from the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee and the FSB work in Moscow and St Petersburg. We believe that within the next 10 to 12 days we will have convincing, tangible results confirming the lead put forward during the initial phase of the investigation.
Dmitry Medvedev: In light of what has happened, we need to work out all possible versions of this incident. All possible theories, all the motives that might exist to cause this tragic incident, to commit this heinous crime. Mr Bortnikov, do you have something to add concerning current operations?
Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov: Yes, I want to say that we have obtained additional information as a result of analysing and working with expert examination reports, and this information is now being actively investigated by the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service. I believe that this will enable us to work out the different theories that we talked about and which I reported to you earlier.
Today we are working closely with all relevant security agencies and the Investigative Committee as we have been instructed. I would like to say here and now that there is a variety of evidence that actually makes it possible to say that this crime may be solved.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is a crime that must be solved and we will do everything in our power to solve it, absolutely everything. This is a matter of national importance.
Mr Zubkov, I’d like to hear now about the actual work of the government commission. I understand that everything has been set up, as we specified in the orders that I gave to you on Saturday. Can you report briefly on this?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND HEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE THE ACCIDENT VIKTOR ZUBKOV: Mr President, I have already reported to you in detail on the work of the government commission, established immediately after the disaster.
The commission has worked virtually around the clock. The main emphasis has been on taking care of people and restoring infrastructure. I should say that immediately after the accident within a very short time 529 people [passengers and train crew] were taken to St Petersburg. They were there already at three o'clock in the morning. In addition concerted efforts were made to get the wounded to hospitals in the Novgorod and Tver regions. We have been in touch with the governors, who have also been very active during this time. But nevertheless I have to say that 25 people were killed in the accident, one more person died in a hospital; that makes a total of 26 deaths. The funerals are taking place now.
There are currently 92 people in hospitals, mainly in Moscow and St Petersburg, and no people missing. I should say that the commission worked quickly on the lists, verifying the lists of all the dead, seriously or lightly injured, and a decision was taken to allocate financial assistance to all accident victims. I should also say what has already been reported to you, that the families of those killed in the accident will receive 1,100,000 rubles. The figures for serious and light injuries are somewhat lower. Thus the commission will continue to work to aid the victims by providing them with all possible assistance until all issues related to recovery, rehabilitation, providing material assistance and care for friend and relatives are resolved. When that is done, the commission will have satisfied its mandate.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good. The work of the commission should continue and, as you and I discussed earlier, we need to think about harmonising our legislation that deals with such incidents. This should be done, and I’ll be making a separate statement on this subject later on.