Putin vows to find mastermind of Moscow concert hall attack and urges tighter security

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Image: Reuters)

Putin said that the masterminds of the attack on the concert hall “tried to create discord and panic, conflict and hatred in our country in order to break Russia from the inside,” adding that “we must not allow them to do this”.

President Vladimir Putin vowed on Tuesday to hunt down the masterminds of the Moscow concert hall attack that killed 144 people in the worst attack on Russian soil in two decades, and urged his law enforcement agencies to tighten security at mass gatherings. Did.

Putin has repeatedly sought to link the March 22 killings to Ukraine and the West, despite the Islamic State group’s claim of responsibility and Kiev’s vehement denials, as well as the U.S. government warning Moscow of an imminent attack days earlier .

Speaking at a meeting with top officials of the Interior Ministry, which oversees the country’s police force, Putin said it was important to determine “not only the perpetrators of this outrage, but all links of the chain and its beneficiaries.”

“Those who use this weapon against Russia must realize that it is a double-edged weapon,” he said, making an apparent threat of retaliation.

Putin said the masterminds of the attack on the concert hall “tried to create discord and panic, conflict and hatred in our country in order to break Russia from the inside,” adding that “we must not allow them to do this. “

“It is unacceptable to use this tragic incident to incite ethnic tensions, xenophobia and Islamophobia,” he said.

Russian security agencies have detained four suspects, all of them citizens of Tajikistan, and seven other alleged associates.

The attack has sparked anti-migrant sentiments and Russian supporters have called for limiting immigration, despite the fact that the Russian economy strongly depends on such workers, most of them from East-Central Asia, including Tajikistan. Are from Soviet countries.

Russian media reported that authorities had tightened controls on migrants after the attack.

Putin urged the Interior Ministry to tighten controls on illegal migration and close loopholes in existing procedures that allow people with criminal pasts to obtain work permits and even Russian citizenship.

The security lapse has left many wondering how gunmen could easily kill so many people at a public event. Kremlin critics have argued that it was rooted in a vast Russian security apparatus that focused not on terrorism threats but on suppressing political opposition, independent media and civil society groups in the harshest crackdown since the Soviet era.

Putin said authorities were investigating the performance of law enforcement structures and other agencies in the concert hall attack. He urged law enforcement agencies to strengthen security at public gatherings.

“We have paid a very high price and the analysis of the situation must be objective and professional,” he said. “It is important to do this to take ensuring safety and order in mass gatherings, sports facilities, transport, business and entertainment centres, schools, hospitals, universities, theaters etc. to a new level. All those facilities must be under constant control.

Putin again charged that Moscow’s foreign opponents aim to “destroy what is left of historical Russia, tear apart its core” in order to gain control over the country’s vast resources.

“Some of them are trying to maintain their dominance at our expense in today’s fast-changing world,” he said. “Some people clearly saw our country as a weak link. They are wrong.”

The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan claimed it carried out the attack, and US intelligence said it had information confirming that the group was responsible. The US government said it had informed Russia in early March about an impending attack under the “duty to warn” rule, which obliges US intelligence officials to share such information even with adversaries. It was not clear how specific the tip was.

The US Embassy in Moscow also issued a public notice on March 7 advising Americans to avoid gatherings in the capital over the next 48 hours due to “imminent” plans by extremists to target large gatherings, including concerts. Just three days before the attack, Putin had dismissed the US embassy notice as an attempt to intimidate Russians and blackmail the Kremlin.

Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, confirmed Moscow had received a US tip but said it lacked details.

Following a similar statement last week by Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service, Russia’s main domestic security agency, Naryshkin said, “The information was very general and allowed to fully identify those involved in that terrible crime.” Didn’t give.” ,

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – The Associated Press)