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Russia claims it detained suspected perpetrators of Moscow shooting that killed over 100 people

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 23, 2024 11:59 AM 4 min read
A law enforcement officer stands guard outside the burning Crocus City Hall concert hall following the shooting incident in Moscow, Russia, on March 23, 2024. (Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia's security services detained 11 people allegedly involved in the March 22 mass shooting at a concert venue near Moscow, including four perpetrators, the Kremlin's press service reported on March 23.

Several gunmen opened fire at the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, northwest of Moscow, on the evening of March 22, killing 133 people and injuring over 120, according to the latest updates by the Russian authorities.

Ahead of the attack, the U.S. Embassy in Russia issued a warning on March 7 that "extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow" and urged American citizens to stay away from crowded areas and venues over the next 48 hours. The U.K., Canada, Germany, and several other countries published similar statements soon after.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly dismissed these warnings as a Western provocation.

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), informed Putin of the alleged detention on March 23 and told him the FSB was working to identify accomplices, the Kremlin's press service said.

The Investigative Committee of Russia confirmed the arrest of four people suspected of committing the shooting via its Telegram channel on March 23. The committee claimed its officers detained the suspects in Russia's Bryansk region, "not far from the border with Ukraine."

The FSB claimed, as cited by Russian state media, that the detained suspects had planned to cross the border into Ukraine and "had relevant contacts on the Ukrainian side." Other Russian officials previously alleged Ukraine's involvement in the attack without providing any evidence and citing it as a reason to intensify Russian attacks against Ukraine.

Kyiv has dismissed the allegations of its involvement in the mass shooting. The White House said there was no indication that Ukraine was behind the Moscow attack.

The Kyiv Independent is unable to verify the claims made by the Russian authorities.

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The terrorist group Islamic State (IS)  claimed responsibility in a Telegram post shortly after the attack, and U.S. officials confirmed the claim.

Just hours after the Moscow attack began, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned of retaliation against Ukraine if "terrorists of the Kyiv regime" were found to be behind them.

Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) called the shooting a "deliberate provocation by Putin's special services." HUR claimed the attack was intended to justify "even tougher" strikes on Ukraine and total mobilization in Russia.

In a statement on March 22, Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Ministry denied Russian allegations of Ukrainian involvement in the shooting and urged the international community to reject false narratives.

"We consider such accusations to be a planned provocation by the Kremlin with the aim of further fueling anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society, creating conditions for increased mobilization of Russian citizens to participate in criminal aggression against our state and discrediting Ukraine in the eyes of the international community," the ministry said.

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"The Russian regime has a long history of bloody provocations by special services, similar to the terrorist attack on the Kashirskoye highway in 1999. There are no red lines for Putin's dictatorship," added the statement.

"[Putin's regime] is ready to kill its own citizens for political purposes, just as it has killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians during the war against Ukraine as a result of missile strikes, artillery shelling, and torture."

In 1999, shortly after Vladimir Putin became president, a series of apartment bombings, including on the Kashirskoye highway in Moscow, rocked Russia, which were blamed on Chechen separatists, lighting the fuse for the second Chechen war.

Since then, speculation has continued that Putin and the FSB orchestrated the bombings to boost his popularity and legitimize the war.

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