Bloomberg News

Medvedev Blames Security ‘Anarchy’ for Airport Attack

January 25, 2011

Medvedev Blames Security ‘Anarchy’ for Airport Attack

Passangers queue to pass security checks in Moscow's Domodedovo international airport on January 24, after an explosion killed at least 35 people. Photographer: Oxana Onipko/AFP/Getty Images

President Dmitry Medvedev blamed lax security for a suicide bombing at Russia’s busiest airport that killed 35 people and said the organizers of the attack must be brought to justice or “eliminated” if they resist arrest.

“The information we have from the scene of the crime demonstrates that it was anarchy,” Medvedev said today in televised comments. “People were coming in from everywhere. The control of movement was partial at best and didn’t extend to those who were meeting passengers.”

Medvedev said the organizers of the attack must be brought to justice and “eliminated on the spot” if they resist arrest. The president delayed his departure to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is scheduled to deliver the keynote address tomorrow.

At least eight of the people killed were foreigners, including U.K., German and Bulgarian citizens, according to the Emergency Situations Ministry. Nine of the bodies had yet to be identified as of 4:30 p.m. local time, with another 110 people still in hospital, the ministry said.

The blast in the arrival hall of the largest air hub in eastern Europe was the second major attack on the Russian capital in less than a year. Forty people died in twin suicide subway bombings during the morning rush hour last March. Doku Umarov, a militant from the southern Russian region of Chechnya, where government forces fought two wars against separatists between 1994 and 2000, claimed responsibility for those attacks.

‘Vengeance’ Is ‘Inevitable’

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he had “no doubt” that the crime would be solved and that “vengeance” against the organizers was “inevitable.” He pledged 3 million rubles ($101,000) for the families of those killed in the attack.

“Despite all of our efforts, Russia can’t reduce terrorist activity,” Andrei Przhezdomsky, an adviser to the Federal Security Service’s anti-terrorism committee, said by telephone. The committee will push for harsher punishment of corrupt officials whose conduct facilitates terrorist attacks.

Corruption has been a major contributor to the increase in terrorism, Przhezdomsky said.

The 30-stock Micex Index was trading up 0.1 percent at 4:32 p.m. today after closing down 1.5 percent yesterday. The ruble was little changed against the dollar.

Buying Opportunity

“I don’t think it will have a significant impact on the stock exchange or equities because this is a global problem, it’s not only a Russian problem,” Mark Mobius, who oversees $34 billion for Templeton Asset Management, said in an interview in Bucharest today.

“We have been buying more Russian equities because, relative to other markets, Russian equities are cheap,” Mobius said. “Of course, if the market comes down, that will be another opportunity to do more.”

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which conducts criminal probes, said the blast was most likely carried out by a suicide bomber whose identity has yet to be determined. Officials are seeking three men in particular in connection with the attack, according to the Interfax news service, which cited unidentified law enforcement personnel. Video footage of the attack’s aftermath posted on YouTube showed bodies strewn on the floor and thick smoke in the arrival hall.

‘No Trouble’

Investigators are questioning Domodedovo security officials and looking into the performance of government agencies responsible for overseeing the airport.

“It has already been established that the terrorist had no trouble getting into the hall where the blast occurred, since no adequate system existed for controlling the entrances to the airport building,” the committee said.

The Energy Ministry today demanded that companies boost security at their facilities, RIA Novosti reported.

Domodedovo, which moved a record 22.3 million passengers last year, services 75 airlines, including British Airways Plc and Deutsche Lufthansa AG. It handles in excess of 600 flights a day, more than Sheremetyevo, previously Moscow’s main airport and now the terminus for OAO Aeroflot, the national airline.

The security at Domodedovo was breached in 2004, when terrorists bribed their way through security checks to board two passenger planes, which they subsequently brought down. All 90 people on board were killed and the attacks were claimed by Islamist militants.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lyubov Pronina in Moscow at lpronina@bloomberg.net; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Willy Morris at wmorris@bloomberg.net


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