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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: May 5, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Court Authorizes Arrest of Four Tajiks Suspected of Preparing Terrorist Attack on Upcoming Victory Day May 9
4 years
Russian Security Council Secretary Accuses Refugees from Ukraine of 'Complicating Criminal Situation' in Russia

Preobrazhensky Court in Moscow authorized the arrest of a native of Tajikistan who was detained this past Monday May 2 in the southwest district of Moscow for possible involvement in preparation of a terrorist attack on the forthcoming Victory Day celebrations May 9, Interfax reported.

Aybek Saidov had been put in custody until July 3, according to the court press secretary, Aleksandra Savelyeva. Savelyeva said Saidov is accused of making an attempt on the life of a member of the law-enforcement agencies (Art. 217 of the Russian Criminal Code) and unlawful possession of a weapon (Art. 222).

Later today the Meshchansky Court press service announced that three more natives of Tajikistan, also accused of possible involvement in a terrorist attack, were also authorized to be taken into custody. Two Kalashnikovs were said to be found on the scene.

Forkhadzhon Muratov, Sirozhidin Ergashev and Anvarzhon Todzhboltayev are to be held until July 3 as well for unlawful possession of weapons.

Authorities are investigating "more than a dozen" detainees during the holiday period in Russia now for possible plans to attack the "Immortal Regiment," a popular mass parade on Red Square where people carry portraits of their loved ones who served or were killed in World War II.

Twelve migrants from Tajikistan were said to be rounded up in this police sweep who either had jobs as janitors or were unemployed. 

According to police sources, the suspect had active communications on social networks with their fellow Tajiks in Turkey and Syria. Information is being checked now about a supposed assignment sent them in Moscow to stage a terrorist attack on Victory Day, which is celebrated as the victory of the Allies in World War II, which is known as the Great Fatherland War in Russia.

Police say they have "reason to believe" that the weapons the Tajik suspects appeared to possess "came from Ukraine" and that they would "thoroughly" study all available materials to determine if terrorist activity in fact took place.

Interfax said it could not confirm this information regarding a possible plan for a terrorist attack.

That disclaimer from a state news agency that dutifully replays most official announcements indicates the case may be shaky.

Some of the migrants were released from custody or deported from Russia, Interfax reported this evening. 

A source told Interfax that on Monday, intelligence officers conducted a sweep to detain persons from Central Asia. One man who put up active resistance was wounded apparently in a gunfight and was hospitalized. The two Kalashnikovs were said to be found at this scene. Intelligence agents also reportedly found 7 TNT packets, a brick of plastique used to make bombs, a grenade-launcher, two grenades and the two Kalashnikovs.

The Federal Security Service's Center for Public Liaison said that citizens from Central Asian countries who had planned a series of terrorist attacks in Moscow during hte May holidays "on assignment from the leaders of international terrorist organizations active in Syria and Turkey"

Interfax said that the FSB "did not report the names and numbers of those detained and also other details of the special operation" -- another indicator of the possibly shakiness of the case.

Journalists, even state reporters, have good reason to be skeptical about such police sweeps of Central Asians or Caucasians that are short on details and long on claims.

A report April 25 from the site described another case of terrorists who were tried April 22 in the Moscow District Military Court for preparing a terrorist attack on the Kirgiziya movie theater in Moscow. Fourteen men and one woman were sentenced to terms of 11 to 13 years of imprisonment. Among them was Inyal Balakadashev, sentenced to 11 years of labor colony. says that in July 2013, Balakadashev, age 26 found a job as a sailor on the trawler Geroi Damanskogo (Heroes of Damansk) and worked at sea for six months. When in November, the ship returned to port, Balakadashev took leave and traveled to Dagestan to visit his parents. On the evening of November 26, 2013, he flew to Moscow's Domodedovo Airport and decided to visit his brother, Nurmagomed. No sooner had they managed to brew some tea when police broke in the door and arrested everyone in the communal apartment. In one of the apartment rooms (not the one in which Balakadashev's brother lived), police seized two RGD-5 grenades, two F-1 grenades and some hand-made grenades known as khattabki (after the Saudi-born Chechen independence fighter Khattab), a suicide belt and TNT. The next day, the state media said a terrorist band had been "liquidated" and a would-be suicide-bomber intercepted.

Normally, the FSB takes up cases like this involving terrorism. But says the FSB did not want to work on this case after seeing the results of a polygraph test of the detainees and the forensic analysis indicated that not a single one of those detained had anything to do with terrorism or the explosives found. Indeed, no fingerprints of the detainees were found on a single one of the explosives said to be taken from the apartment.

After the FSB declined it, the case was sent to the Investigative Committee where it went to Capt. Ivan Shcherbakov, a special cases investigator, who studied the case handed to him from the police thoroughly for eight months. He did not find anything that indicated a plan for a terrorist attack, and on September 23, 2014, Capt. Shcherbakov issued an order to close the criminal case. Then Aleksandr Kozlov, the deputy prosecutor of Moscow, confirmed this finding and issued a notice on the closing of the criminal case.

But on October 17, 2014, a deputy of the Investigative Directorate of the Interior Ministry cancelled Shcherbakov's order as "unlawful and unfounded" and once again charged all the defendants, on October 23, 2014.

The trial lasted seven months. Testimony came from police officers themselves, and certain "secret witnesses" who came from those already in pre-trial detention. One of them, "Witness Vasilyev" testified that Tekilov, one of the accused, told him in their jail cell that he had been in the "terrorist underground" for a long time and had taken part "in the terrorist attacks in Budyonnovsk and Pervomaysk." But the defendant was only six years old at the time of those attacks.

Despite obvious gaps in the case such as this one, all the defendants were found guilty, and a separate ruling was issued regarding Capt. Shcherbakov requiring that he be investigating for letting terrorists off the hook.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick