President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Bortnikov, at the end of last year and the beginning of this one, a number of special operations were carried out in the North Caucasus republics, and I would like you to tell me about the results. And, unfortunately, another terrorist attack took place several days ago in Daghestan. Please tell me about the progress of the investigation into this attack, the current results and information that we have at our disposal – to the extent that you can talk about it in the presence of the media. What is being done to eradicate banditry in the North Caucasus?
FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov: Mr President, according to our data, the terrorist attack against police officers in Daghestan on January 6 was carried out by the gang of a criminal known as Al-Bara. We have been working on this group for quite some time, and we know the names of nearly every member of this criminal gang. In hot pursuit we have managed to obtain the names of masterminds behind this attack: a certain Ichikayev and Kazaaliyev.
Following the raid against these two criminals who were eventually killed in an armed stand-off, our special forces accessed and searched the house where the bandits had been hiding and found there a license plate for a Niva car the terrorists used for their attack against a traffic police station in Daghestan.
There was also a large amount of explosives found in the house; the premises were clearly used as an IED [improvised explosive device] facility.
As I said, these two criminals belonged to a gang organised by Umalat Magomedov – nicknamed Al-Bara – who headed Daghestani criminal underground. This gang is responsible for an enormous number of attacks, killing law enforcement officers, blowing up railroad tracks, and damaging fuel and energy facilities.
On December 31, following a raid conducted by the Federal Security Service (FSB), Al-Bara and three of his accomplices were also killed.
Today, we are working jointly with Daghestani law enforcement agencies to carry out investigation activities against this criminal group and its remaining members. I think that by joining our efforts we will be able to terminate this criminal gang’s activity.
As for our work in the North Caucasus overall, we have recently taken additional measures to provide extra security, including the preparations for mass events.
The fact that Daghestani police officers were the first to take the blow on January 6 proves that the measures we’ve taken are in fact working. Unfortunately though, it must be noted that they still result in serious losses.
I am certain that the work being done through the National Anti-Terrorism Committee and the instructions that you gave last year during meetings in Stavropol and Makhachkala are coming to fruition. It should also be noted that law enforcement agencies and police forces of Daghestan, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Kabardino-Balkaria are now showing greater involvement in identifying and neutralising the activity of criminal gangs, working with the public, and reducing the number of accomplices of the criminal underground.
This work is underway and I think that along with the tasks laid out for us, we will be resolving these problems more effectively.
Dmitry Medvedev: I had said some time ago that our goal is to create a normal living environment in our southern republics. First and foremost, this means improving the socio-economic environment, creating new jobs, opening new production facilities, and launching new investment projects; clearly, we will be working on all of these things. However, as far as criminals are concerned, our policy remains as before. They must simply be eliminated, and we will come down hard on them and will do it systematically.
The reason for this is that unfortunately, the criminal underground is still there. We cannot turn a blind eye to this fact and discuss any sort of statistics that may or may not even be real. We must work methodically and we must cover all bases; if we see traces of criminal activity anywhere, we must investigate and eradicate it.
I would like for the Federal Security Service to work in coordination with your colleagues in the Ministry of the Interior and other agencies, including our investigation units, to do all this.
Alexander Bortnikov: Yes, Mr President. The system is already in place, and I think that it will work effectively.