Georgia accused over Moscow Metro bombing
The head of Russia’s Security Council accused Georgia today of backing terrorism in the North Caucasus and said that it could be involved in the Moscow Metro bombing.
As Moscow held the first funerals for victims of the attack, Nikolai Patrushev alleged that members of Georgia’s special services had links with terrorist groups in the region and said that investigators would look for evidence of their involvement in the double suicide-bombing that killed 39 people on the Metro.
Mr Patrushev, the former director of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, singled out Georgia and its pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili after being asked in an interview about possible foreign involvement in the terror attack.
“All theories have to be checked. For example, there is Georgia and the leader of that state, Saakashvili, whose behaviour is unpredictable,” Mr Patrushev told the Kommersant newspaper.
“He has already unleashed war once. It is possible that he may unleash it again. We have had information that individual members of Georgian special forces support contacts with terrorist organisations in the Russian North Caucasus. We must check this also in relation to the acts of terror in Moscow.”
Mr Patrushev headed the FSB for nine years until President Medvedev appointed him Secretary of the Security Council in May 2008, three months before the war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
Mr Medvedev later recognised South Ossetia and Georgia’s other separatist region of Abkhazia as independent states, a move that outraged Mr Saakashvili.
Russia has stationed thousands of troops in both territories, which border the North Caucasus, although most of the world continues to recognise them as part of Georgia.
The Security Council is chaired formally by the President and includes Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister, as well as the defence and foreign ministers and the heads of Russia’s various security agencies. Mr Medvedev broke off all contact with Mr Saakashvili after the war and regularly accuses him of being a criminal.
Mr Patrushev’s claim that Georgian officers may be encouraging terrorism in Russia will inflame relations further. The director of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, has blamed the Moscow attack on terrorists from the North Caucasus, although no group has claimed responsibility.
The accusation came as two new suicide bomb attacks killed 12 people, including nine policemen, and wounded 23 in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan today.
The local police chief, Vitaly Vedernikov, was among the victims in the town of Kizlyar, close to Dagestan’s border with Chechnya, where Islamist militants have waged a long guerrilla war against Russian forces.
Rashid Nurgaliyev, the Interior Minister, said that one suicide bomber detonated explosives in his car as police tried to stop the vehicle, killing two officers. In remarks broadcast on Russian television, he said: “Traffic police followed the car and almost caught up – at that time the blast hit.”
A second suicide bomber wearing a police uniform struck 20 minutes later after approaching police and local residents who had gathered at the scene of the first blast. A school and police station were damaged in the explosion.
Mr Nurgaliyev suggested that government buildings could have been the target of the attack because the explosions took place 300 metres from the offices of the local Interior Ministry and the FSB. Muslim Dagestan has been plagued by violence for years, though much of it involves rival clans rather than Islamist separatists.
Mr Medvedev recently appointed a presidential envoy to oversee the North Caucasus, saying that separatists had spread “like a cancerous tumour” throughout the region.
Circassians Look to Georgia for International Support