Police chief Vladimir Pronin accused the three university students being held in connection with the market bombing of also orchestrating at least eight prior bomb blasts. Police have identified the suspects as Oleg Kostyrev, Ilya Tikhomirov, and Valery Zhukovtsov.
"If we had not detained this group, they would have caused a lot of trouble in Moscow, God forbid," Pronin said. "I have talked to two of the three arrested, and I want to say that, according to our police estimates, they have carried out at least eight explosions in Moscow and the Moscow region. They had first studied explosives and then carried out explosions."
Pronin gave no details about the previous explosions, saying only that some had caused injuries, but none were fatal.
Eleven people, including two children, were killed in the attack at the Cherkizovsky market in northeast Moscow. Officials say four of the victims were from Tajikistan, two from Uzbekistan, one from Belarus, and two from Russia. Two other victims remain unidentified.
The suspects, all members of a nationalist youth group, have been charged with racially motivated murder for admitting to targeting "non-Russians" in the attack.
(Interfax, RIA Novosti)
COMBATTING THE HATRED: RFE/RL's Russian Service on August 21 spoke with Kamilzhan Kalandarov, a member of the Public Chamber and a leader of the NGO Our Russia. (Read the complete interview in Russian). Kalandarov spoke about efforts the authorities are making to combat the wave of hate crimes sweeping Russia.
Kalandarov: Xenophobia today threatens the national interests of Russia. But I agree that the authorities are making good progress in this matter. First, the order on withdrawing Russian forces from Chechnya was recently signed. That is a big plus because the source of extremism, the sources of Caucasus-phobia are partly in Chechnya. Islamophobia grew dramatically after the first Chechen war. Next, the Public Chamber was created. We have a subcommission on nationalities issues and a subcommission that drafts projects related to xenophobia. This work is ongoing, which is why I think the authorities are really interested in making sure this problem does not go any further.
We should also mention the courts. I think that in many cases judges themselves hold [xenophobic] views. Second, we have not created normal conditions for protecting witnesses. People are not physically protected from various types of influence. Judges are afraid and witnesses are afraid. Because they have to keep living in that city. This defenselessness leads to cases not being pursued and to not-guilty verdicts being issued.
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