President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Bortnikov, an operation was carried out in Ingushetia several days ago. I want to hear about its results and about the investigation into the terrorist attack against the Nevsky Express train. The FSB’s preliminary conclusions clearly link the individuals implicated in this attack with a number of events that have taken place.
Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov: As I reported to you earlier, after the attack against the Nevsky Express last November, the Federal Security Service started investigating one of the bandit groups in Ingushetia, which we had serious reasons to suspect was involved in this crime. The operations we carried out produced additional evidence confirming these suspicions.
Furthermore, our work also yielded evidence indicating that this group was behind another 15 particularly serious crimes, including the murder of law enforcement officers and attacks against infrastructure and other vital facilities. Given the danger this group represented we decided to go ahead with a special operation, carried out by Federal Security Service forces in the village of Ekazhevo in Nazran District on March 2–3. As a result of this operation, 10 active members of the group were taken into custody, while eight members of the group, which put up active armed resistance, were killed. One of the individuals among those killed has been clearly identified as one of the most notorious underground bandit leaders in the North Caucasus, a certain Said Buryatsky, otherwise known as Tikhomirov.
Moreover, we found material evidence at the operations site directly linked to the bombing of the train carried out by this group last November. We found components of explosive devices identical to those that were used to derail the Nevsky Express in 2007. I think that the initial expert examinations we have conducted will provide irrefutable evidence that can be used in the further investigation of this criminal case and the subsequent court proceedings.
At the site where the armed encounter with the group took place, we discovered a homemade explosive devices laboratory and seized more than a ton of explosives as well as a very large quantity of firearms and ammunition. As I said, genetic identification of the bandits has already been carried out establishing their involvement in the bombing of the Nevsky Express last November. All of the evidence indicates that these are the people who took part in this crime.
All of the material evidence and facts collected so far, as well as the investigations materials related to this criminal case have been handed over to the Investigative Committee. The Investigative Committee’s team worked actively together with our personnel at the operations site, and is now working on putting the evidence together and incorporating it into the criminal proceedings.
We are continuing our active efforts on this case and I will keep you updated on our work.
Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Bortnikov, first of all, I instruct you to continue investigating all the circumstances of this crime together with the Prosecutor’s Office Investigative Committee. The evidence already gathered now needs to be formally included in the case materials and the investigation needs to continue to the end. Of course, it will be the court that passes the final verdict on this whole affair.
But the operation’s results show that, unfortunately, the underground bandit groups are still pursuing these kinds of activities. The FSB, Interior Ministry and other agencies involved in this work therefore need to continue putting their forces and possibilities into efforts in this area.
I would like you to thank everyone who took part in this operation and contributed to its results. Please submit a proposal on awarding state decorations to those who took part in this work, those who, despite the difficult conditions and the active resistance the bandits put up, achieved results, caught the criminals and collected evidence that can now be used in the investigation and in court.