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Nikolai Golik Prezident.

Long-forming terrorist threat over St. Petersburg

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05.04.2017 09:47

However nobody believed in terrorist attacks here.


Security agencies have been long aware of the fact that terrorists dream of making their way to the shores of the Northern capital. They did not suspect this, but knew for sure. Almost every year the media news feed feature reports on the FSB officers detaining yet another jihadists, terrorists or IS members (IGIL is a prohibited organization on the territory of the Russian Federation). This time the siloviki were also versed. They knew that evil was possible, but they did not know where it could happen. The police began to check men entering metro stations with bags and backpacks with special zeal from the evening of April 2, when people commuted home from work. The terrorists changed their tactics and turned up in the metro in the afternoon.

Jihad around St. Petersburg

Nobody believed in terrorist attacks in St. Petersburg. Residents of the northern capital are used to the fact that tragedies pass the city on the Neva by. There was a major aviation accident in the history of the city, which took place on October 31, 2015. But formally it happened over the Sinai Peninsula, although it was Petersburgers who were mainly among those killed in the plane crash. Since the explosion of the Nevsky Express in November 2009 nothing like this happened in St. Petersburg.


The collapse of the Nevsky Express train No. 166, going from Moscow to St. Petersburg, occurred in 2009. The tragedy took place on November 27, 2009 at 21:30 Moscow time at the 285th kilometer (the Uglovka-Aleshinka transhipment, at the border between the Tver and Novgorod regions) of the St. Petersburg-Moscow line, near the village of Lykoshino. The terrorist attack resulted in 28 people killed and 132 people injured. The fatalities featured state officials of the highest rank, well-known businessmen and two pregnant women. The official version states that the collapse was the result of the terrorist attack. Dokka Umarov, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate, took responsibility for blowing up the train.


But technically the detentions of suspicious individuals did not cease. They became especially frequent in late summer and autumn of 2016 – practically 8 months before the April tragedy.

In August 2016 police officers and Special Rapid Deployment Force (SOBR) fighters detained a wanted 26-year-old native of Kabardino-Balkaria in Vyborgsky district of the Leningrad region. According to law enforcement agencies, he was a militant. This detention was not high-profile in contrast to the FSB Special Forces’ raid of an apartment in a high-rise building on Leninsky avenue in St. Petersburg, which became known not only in the city, but all over the country. Armed militants resisted the siloviki and were subsequently killed. Later it turned out that Zalim Shebzukhov, Astemir Sheriev and Vyacheslav Nyrov were on the federal wanted list and were the leaders of the terrorist bandit underground operating in the territory of Kabardino-Balkaria. Another person – resident of Kabardino-Balkaria Aslan Kurashinov – was an active sidekick of militants.+


Several dozen SOBR fighters and the FSB officers raided the three-room apartment on Leninsky avenue. Special forces were dressed in chemical protection suits. During the assault they used ammunition with tear gas and nerve agents, as well as flashbang grenades. The militants tried to fight back militarily and actively fired back. As a result of the special operation, four terrorists were killed, one detained. In addition, the law enforcement officers actively questioned the local population in search of "a woman of oriental appearance".

November 2016 was even richer in detentions. This time they opened an apartment in Sofya Kovalevskaya Street, where ‘quiet’ taxi drivers took up residence – emigrants from former southern republics of the Soviet Union. Similar high-profile arrests took place simultaneously in Moscow. According to the MIA, only in the northern capital the militants were going to blow up several major shopping centers, such as Gallery (near the Moscow railway station), and Academ-Park. Retail complex Zhemchuzhnaya Plaza was evacuated due to the threat of terrorist attack on November, 15.

Then the FSB officers revealed a whole clan of terrorists consisting of eight people who turned out to be natives of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (as well as the suspect in the current terrorist attack). During interrogations in the FSB Investigation Department seven detainees confessed that in addition to blasts in the shopping centers, they were going to release armed bandits on the streets in other parts of the city, who were to begin random shooting of passers-by. It should be noted that during the interrogations the detainees did not hide their belonging to the Islamic State. Up to a certain time they lived peacefully in a rented apartment, keeping, as they say, a low profile. The neighbors were sure that they were peaceful guest workers with plump bags, who came to Petersburg for work. The guests from the republics indeed worked as taxi drivers, but as it turned out later, this occupation served as a cover for them – one of the detainees subsequently fought in Syria on the positions of the militants.

A few days after this detention Interpol employees caught in Pulkovo 25-year-old native of Tajikistan Umar Mirzoyev, who dreamed of going to war in Syria and actively recruited Salafists in Russia. A group led by Mirzoyev was also going to make blasts. But in the motherland. The special services of national security in the Tajik city of Kurgan-Tube have already been studying the issue on whom and why the young militant was going to take revenge. His capture coincided with the detention of those eight IS natives from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

However, their detention was of course not accidental. Earlier the media received leaked information that 18 suicide bombers – avengers for the actions of Russia in Syria – were sent to large cities of Russia.

Bags and trial balloon

It is obvious that the ring of the terrorist threat has been narrowing over Petersburg for a long time. Strange coincidences in the subway began to occur one and a half months before the tragedy. So, on February 12 an unattended item was found on the blue line of the St. Petersburg metro in the ticket hall area of station Ozerki. It turned out to be so suspicious that the station was closed and examined by canine handlers and explosives technicians. Fortunately, nothing dangerous was found then. But the day before the similar situation occurred at Pionerskaya station. Needless to say, it was still the same ill-fated blue line of the Petersburg subway.+

Metro stations Ozerki and Pionerskaya are very busy and crowded. Both are in large residential areas from where people commute to work. Congestions due to a huge crowd of people in the mornings and evenings are common here. Sennaya Ploshchad and Technological Institute are stations of large interchanges, it is through them that people from Ozerki and Pionerskaya, from Vyborgsky district of the city and from the airport to the center from the Moscow region go.

The question of whether these situations with unattended objects were the usual indifference of hurrying passengers or terrorists’ check of the work of the special services and the underground remains unanswered. However, we should not ignore the acumen of terrorist groups. The situation with unattended objects has long plagued citizens who had to either crowd for hours around the closed vestibule or change the route of going home because of packets and bags. Therefore, in December 2016 St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko promised that the order of closing stations of the St. Petersburg metro due to inspection of abandoned backpacks, bundles and boxes would be optimized.

But even more thoughtful ruminations are prompted by the call of an anonymous person, which happened on February 25, 2017. The caller informed the emergency services about the upcoming terrorist attacks in Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, even if the siloviki caught the caller, it is almost impossible to prove his involvement in the incident in April. After all, telephone hooligans were present at all times. Today St. Petersburg stations Dostoyevskaya and Sennaya Ploshchad, as well as the section from Moskovskaya to Petrogradskaya (again the blue line) and a large interchange station with tunnels and transitions, from which interchange to the blue line is also made – Gostiny Dvor – were closed again. As it became known, the stations were checked because of an anonymous warning about another possible terrorist attack. However so far everything is alright