Russian law enforcement authorities have issued a facial composite of a man they say is the prime suspect in the investigation into the bombing of a Moscow to St. Petersburg express train last Friday. Various reports in the Russian media have linked the terrorist act to Pavel Kosolapov, an ethnic Russian who converted to Islam several years ago and has sided with armed groups in the Caucasus. But Alexandr Cherkasov, a member of the Memorial human rights group warns about the dangers of jumping to conclusions about suspected perpetrators. "Yes, many previous terrorist acts have been attributed to this person [Kosolapov]," he says. "But we also know from past experience that investigators hurry to issue statements, and therefore incompatible statements by different investigators emerge."
Putin Backs Tymoshenko
In this expert file (expertiza), Vitaly Portnikov says that last week's agreement between Naftogaz Ukrainy and Gazprom on amendments to the contract for deliveries of Russian gas to Ukraine is the clearest signal to date that the Kremlin is backing Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bid to become the president of Ukraine in the January elections. He says Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Tymoshenko were purposely presented as the brokers of the agreement, a sign that current Ukrainian President Viktor Yushenko is decreasingly favored in Russian political circles.
"Moscow Council" Demands Luzhkov's Dismissal
At the end of its second congress on November 29, the Moscow Council issued a resolution calling for Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to step down and for direct mayoral elections to be reintroduced and supervised by civil bodies. The council was established in June as an umbrella organization for various protest groups, social movements and opposition politicians. Around 100 delegates attended the congress as representatives of groups of citizens with housing problems and other social issues.