Combating terrorism is seen as a priority issue for the system of bodies and troops of the MOI of Russia. It is evident that the society and the law enforcement system have no right to loose. The stakes in the battle between the healthy society and terrorism are the highest ever.
In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation and the authority of the MOI Offices for combating terrorism-related crimes, a complex of operational, investigatory, preventive and resource measures have been introduced.
Taking into consideration the importance of the state counterterrorism objectives and the necessity to make a harder line on terrorism, the MOI of Russia have decreed to create a Centre for Combating Terrorism ("T" Centre) under the Main Office of MOI of Russia Criminal Militia Service for Combating Organized Crime.
Prevention, detection and termination of terrorism and extremism-related crimes falling within the interior bodies' authority as well as organization and coordination of interior offices and interior troops' counterterrorist activities are priority issues that must be addressed by the Center.
Under the same decree counterterrorist centres of the Operative Investigation Bureau for the federal districts have been created. The centres are the head offices for combating terrorism in the federal districts of Russian Federation.
The "T" Centre works in close cooperation with the FSB, the Prosecutor's Office and other relevant state officials to reinforce the public security and protection from terrorist attacks.
To introduce a more severe punishment for terrorist activities, the MOI of Russia took part in drafting amendments to the Counterterrorism Federal law, already adopted by the State Duma, and Federal law to prolong the detention period for suspects in planning, complicity and staging terrorist attacks, which is now being discussed by the lower chamber.
The situation did not change for the better in 2003. 561 acts of terrorism (article 202 of Criminal Codex of RF) were registered within the period. The number increased by 55.8 per cent compared to 2002. Over 400 of these crimes were committed in the South Federal District, including 386 staged in the Chechen republic. This is due to the fact that the illicit armed groups carried on their diversion and terrorist activities. They have already given up "struggling for independence of Ichkeria" and are now realizing international terrorist leaders' plans.
The tactics of terrorist attacks have changed and their methods are being modified. Terrorist leaders are now using motor transport driven by komikaze terrorists and suicide bombers in the busiest places of Moscow, Mozdok and Chechnya. More than 200 were killed 600 being injured in such explosions in 2003.
The joint efforts of the MOI, FSB and Prosecutor's Office bodies resulted in detection of 86 acts of terrorism last year; the servicemen combating organized crimes successfully investigated 45 crimes of this category. A number of criminals responsible for planning and execution of terrorist attacks in Moscow and Northern Caucasus region were established, thus the stagers of Tushino attack, bus and hospital explosion in Mozdok, etc. 43 criminal cases were taken to court.
The interior forces work to ensure that no terrorist escapes criminal liability. Thus, 40 persons were sentenced for violation article 205 of the Criminal Codex RF in 2002 and 32 were found guilty upon the same article in the first six months of 2003. During the special operations in the Chechen Republic, including those carried out by the Main Office for Combating Organized Crimes, 500 illicit group members were detained.
The Interior Office attach special attention to prevention of terrorist attacks. This has helped to curb several planned acts of terrorism in Russia.
Thus, the MOI Criminal Militia Service in cooperation with the MOI Temporary Group and the FSB caught 2 Chechen residents driving "Zhiguly" car to Saint Petersburg at check-point #4 in Chechnya September 2003. The car inspection discovered 3 kilograms of plastic explosives and 3 electric detonators. The persons involved in planning the terrorist attack have been detected and are currently under investigation.
A GAZ-3110 vehicle containing a hand-made explosive device made up of four artillery shells was discovered in the city of Karabulak, Ingushetia on December 4, 2003. It has been detected that the car was prepared to explode on the night of December 4/5, 2003. The terrorist attack was prevented by the servicemen of the MOCOC CMS MOI RF in cooperation with the MOI and FSB Office of Ingushetia in the course of investigation activities to detect people allegedly involved in planning act of terrorism during elections to the State Duma and National Assembly of Ingushetia Republic.
The extremist organizations and groups continue to destabilise the sociopolitical environment of the Russian Federation and threaten constitutional security and territorial integrity of the country.
Their main objective is to boost separatist feelings in the Muslim regions and create there, whatever the method, Islam type state formations being the integral part of the so called "Great Islamic Halifat".
In accordance with their responsibilities, the subdivisions combating organized crime work to detect and prevent illicit activities of political and youth extremist organizations. Over the year 2003 a total of 150 crimes related to extremism were revealed in Russia and 150 of them were detected. 41 of these crimes were revealed and 35 detected by the servicemen combating organized crime.
Thus, two Hizb ut-Hahrir members were discovered June 2003. (Hizb ut-Hahrir had been defined as a terrorist organization by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.) Criminal cases were initiated on the charges of illicit weapon keeping. The defendants were sentenced to 3.5 and 3 years of imprisonment.
The officials also investigate non-formal youth extremist organizations' activities. These are organizations frequently using nazi symbols, racist ideology and aggressive behavior pattern.
The Main Interior Office in Saint Petersburg and Leningradskaya Region detained a citizen B. who had founded "Shultz-88" extremist criminal community to plan and commit crimes on racial, national or religious grounds against Muslim people from Caucasus, Asia and Africa. The Saint Petersburg Prosecutoor's Office charged them for violation of a number of articles of the Criminal Codex RF. 5 accomplices were detected; the hearings are in progress.
The number of crimes related to kidnapping and hostage-holding fell last year. However, the risks of falling victims to such crimes are still high. Over the year 2003 1367 kidnappings were registered - a 10 per cent decrease to 2002 figure. 580 of these crimes have been detected, 800 people involved in the crimes being identified.
Setting Vorobjyov A.A. free is a typical example of the MO COC's activities. Vorobjyov A.A., Moscow resident born 1984, was kidnapped on June 26, 2003 in the Abkhazia Republic. The "T" Center servicemen in cooperation with the Office of The Main Interior Office for Combating Organized Crimes investigated the case and detected the people involved in the kidnapping. The organizer was detained on November 20, 2003. Later the servicemen controlled by the Main Office forced the kidnappers to bring Vorob'jyov to the Russian territory, namely Sochy, where he was freed on January 2, 2004.
As a rule, kidnappings are attempted by well organized groups having nerve, qualification, equipment and weapons. The kidnapped often endure violence and blackmailing and threats to be killed.
Unfortunately, sometimes the criminals do kill their victims for different reasons. Thus, over the last three years 63 hostages were killed (15 in 2001, 25 in 2002 and 23 in 2003). This usually occurs when the relatives do not apply to the law enforcers for help and pay the ransom.
When investigating the kidnapping of the Director General of JSC KamAZ-Metallurgiya Faber V.V. and the JSC accountant Starodubtzeva N.G., the MOI CMS servicemen in cooperation with the MOI and Prosecutor's Office of Tatarstan curbed activities of "Tagirjanovskie" criminal group. The gang had been specializing in ordered murders, kidnappings, extortions and other crimes. The group leaders and members have faced charges stipulated by article 210 of the Criminal Codex RF (organization of a criminal group). In the course of investigation 34 cases were detected including 21 murders and kidnappings. The leader and 32 members and accomplices of the gang have been detained by the moment.
The Main Office for Combating Organised Crime of CMS MOI of Russia.