The President instructed the heads of Russia’s law enforcement agencies to keep the investigation into the attacks under their constant supervision and report on developments.
The Government has been told to provide any necessary aid to all of the victims.
Mr Medvedev also gave an instruction to tighten security measures throughout Russia’s transport system.
Earlier, the heads of the Federal Security Service, Prosecutor General’s Office, Emergency Situations Ministry and Healthcare and Social Development Ministry briefed the President on what is being done to help those injured in the attacks, and on the investigation now underway
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Two terrorist attacks were committed in the Moscow metro this morning. Let us first of all honour the victims’ memory with a minute of silence.
Turning now to the actual details of the events, let’s hear first from Mr [Alexander] Bortnikov. Please, brief us on the chronology of events and the main conclusions so far on what took place.
Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov: The first blast took place at 7.57 this morning at Lubyanka metro station, and the second occurred at 8.37 at Park Kultury metro station. The death toll currently stands at 36 people.
Preliminary forensic tests show that the explosive used was hexogen, up to four kilograms in the first blast, and 1.5–2 kilograms in the second. The explosive devices were filled with cut steel chips and bolts to act as shrapnel.
Our preliminary conclusion is that these terrorist attacks were committed by a terrorist group with links to the North Caucasus region. We consider this the most likely version of events because preliminary analysis of the fragments of the terrorists’ bodies found at the sites suggests that the blasts were carried out by two female suicide bombers with links to the North Caucasus.
A federal operations headquarters has begun work, the necessary investigation work and operations are underway, and a criminal case has been opened under the charge of terrorism. The Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry operations officers are working in intensive regime. We are doing everything necessary to identify as rapidly as possible the people connected to this terrorist attack and are taking all necessary measures to exclude any possible further attacks.
Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Shoigu, what have the rescuers been doing, what is the situation now? Have the wounded been evacuated, and where have they been sent?
Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu: The rescue services all reacted quite fast. All of the injured have been evacuated to 12 hospitals and treatment facilities around Moscow. We currently have 54 people in hospital. Most of the casualties were at Lubyanka station. Of course, it is hard to say where things are worse, but I am talking simply of the numbers – we had 41 casualties there.
We engaged all the necessary services and agencies, including 342 people and 100 vehicles from the Emergency Situations Ministry, as well as two helicopters that we also used to transport the injured to hospitals. They are currently being examined by medical personnel. Of course, the Moscow City Government and the Healthcare Ministry are also taking all necessary steps to provide needed medicines and blood supplies. We have opened hotlines, of course, to inform peoples’ families.
We also used the Aksion public address system that has been developed together with the Interior Ministry and FSB to inform people using the metro system or travelling by road. Moscow transport services were quick to organise buses, around 130 buses [replacing the closed metro line].
All the services responded quite fast. As for additional conclusions, they will follow over the next 24 hours.
Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Luzhkov, you visited the scene of these attacks. What is the situation there now in your view, and what are the Moscow city authorities doing to support people?
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov: We went to the scene and together with the Emergency Situations Ministry and law enforcement agencies organised immediate evacuation and took measures to prevent the panic and crushes that, unfortunately, always follow this kind of tragic event. People were evacuated from the metro, public transport was restored, the needed numbers of extra buses were organised, and the way was cleared for ambulances, fire engines and special transport.
We organised everything quite fast so as not to disrupt traffic on the Garden Ring and main roads. Together with the Emergency Situations Ministry we organised urgent transportation of the injured to our hospitals. All of the hospitals are fully provided with the necessary medicines and everything they need for their work.
Dmitry Medvedev: Where have the injured been taken?
Yury Luzhkov: They are in nine different hospitals. This work has been organised by our ambulance system, which has the latest information technology at its disposal.
We opened several telephone hotlines. We are also taking all the necessary organisational steps regarding the sad consequences of this tragedy – cemeteries and so on.
But our first task is to help the victims and fully restore traffic. To restore traffic on the metro we need the services (the prosecutor’s office and investigators) to finish their work as quickly as possible, because until then, we cannot remove the damaged carriages. Once the investigators have finished their work we will need no more than an hour to restore traffic on the Sokolnicheskaya metro line.
Everything has been organised, including a draft order on providing aid for the victims, including financial help for the families of those killed.
Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Nurgaliyev, what is being done to return the transport system to normal and ensure that the law enforcement agencies have it under their control? After all, this is the responsibility of the police and the Interior Ministry in general. What is the situation now?
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev: A rapid response group was dispatched immediately to Lubyanka metro station. More than 300 Interior Ministry officers are now keeping order there. As for Park Kultury metro station, we now have around 150 officers there. All the necessary measures have been taken and the operational and investigation groups are at work.
At the same time, we have sent specific instructions to all of our regional offices to heighten vigilance and ensure our citizens’ safety throughout the entire transport infrastructure, and especially in cities that have metro systems.
The situation is under control. We are working with the Moscow investigators to carry out immediate investigation of these crimes.
Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Chaika, a criminal case has been opened?
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika: Two criminal cases have been opened under the charge of terrorism. An operational and investigation group of 30 people has been set up. I have already given the instruction to add more people to the group so as to complete examination of the crime sites faster. The investigators from the Investigative Committee are receiving help from the Federal Security Service’s investigations service. They are working actively with us collecting all the evidence.
My deputy, the heads of the Investigative Committee, investigators from the Investigative Committee and from the central office have all been to the crime sites. Given the importance of this case I decided that the Prosecutor General’s Office Investigative Committee will handle it. I think we have the grounds for consolidating these two cases into one, seeing as the two attacks were carried out in such identical fashion, and this will allow us to concentrate more attention on the investigation work.
At 10.30 this morning I already held a meeting and heard a report on the investigation so far. My deputies reported on the developments. The Moscow City prosecutor and my deputy, who visited the scene, have already reported on the investigation. We will make every possible effort to solve this crime. I am keeping this case under my supervision.
Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, keep it under your control.
Now, one final issue regarding transport, Mr Levitin, we have transport that comes under the federal authorities’ responsibility, and transport that comes under local authorities’ responsibility. But we nevertheless have an overall national transport policy. What proposals are there on how to organise security in the transport system in general, and in city transport systems, including the metro?
Transport Minister Igor Levitin: In accordance with the law on transport security, we drew up regulations together with the Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service on establishing a transport counterterrorism system, including for the metro.
We have metro system in seven Russian cities. These cities have put in place public address systems that can be used in the event of terrorist attacks such as that in Moscow today. The legal framework issues are coordinated with owners of the infrastructure – with the Moscow city authorities here, and with the local authorities in the other cities. Although these metro systems are municipal and regional property, we are developing the legal framework at federal level, working in coordination with the regions.
Dmitry Medvedev: Preventing these kinds of terrorist attacks and ensuring security in the transport system are very difficult tasks, as recent experience shows. We need to intensify substantially our efforts in this area and address this problem in comprehensive fashion on the national scale. It is not enough to focus on just one type of transport or just one specific location. We need to address this problem at the national level. The measures taken to date are clearly insufficient.
As for the concrete steps to take right now, we need, of course, to help the people affected, first of all, provide help and support to the families of those killed and help all the victims, help those now in hospitals. They must get all necessary aid from the Moscow authorities and from the federal government.
I have instructed the Government to hold a meeting today to discuss all of these issues in detail. I ask the Government to carry this out.
Regarding the situation in general, we need to remain vigilant. The sad truth is that these kinds of attacks are clearly always well-planned, calculated to cause as many victims as possible, and aimed at destabilising our country and society. The Interior Ministry and the security services must therefore work to raise public awareness and keep tight control on the situation. Of course, they must respect citizens’ rights, but keep things under tight control, intervening and responding as necessary if circumstances call for it.
Such practice exists throughout the world and in Russia too. Sadly, this is not the first time we find ourselves facing this sort of event. We therefore need to have precise and prepared responses in this kind of situation.
The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee must continue collecting evidence and conducting a thorough investigation, though without hampering traffic in the metro system, of course. Traffic must resume as soon as the investigations work has been completed, so as not to cause problems for the city.
All versions advanced so far need to be investigated as thoroughly as possible. This is very clearly a continuation of the terrorist activity we have already encountered, and the investigation will no doubt be based primarily on this version. Keep the investigation under your control and report to me on developments.
One final point I want to make is that we will continue our efforts to stamp out and combat terrorism in our country. We will continue our counterterrorist operations with unflinching resolve until we have defeated this scourge. I want all of you, the heads of our law enforcement and security agencies, to remember this and make it your guiding principle – we will act unflinchingly and not stop until terrorism is defeated.
We will hold another meeting soon on specific consequences of these attacks. Now we need to get on with our immediate duties, and so I propose that we all get back to our respective work.