3 of 4 suspects charged in Russia concert hall attack admit guilt during court hearing

1 / 2
Combination image showing Moscow concert massacre suspects (left to right) Shamsidin Fariduni, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, and Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev. (Reuters and AFP photos)
2 / 2
This video grab taken from a handout footage released by Russia's Investigative Committee on March 24, 2024 shows law enforcement officers escorting to court one of the suspects in the concert hall attack. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 25 March 2024
Follow

3 of 4 suspects charged in Russia concert hall attack admit guilt during court hearing

  • The four terrorism suspects, all citizens of Tajikistan, were ordered held in pre-trial custody until May 22
  • All four appeared in court heavily bruised with swollen faces and Russian media said they were tortured during interrogation

MOSCOW: Three of the four suspects charged with carrying out the concert hall attack in Moscow that killed more than 130 people admitted guilt for the incident in a Russian court Sunday.

Moscow’s Basmanny District Court formally charged Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, 32; Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, 30; Mukhammadsobir Faizov, 19; and Shamsidin Fariduni, 25, with committing a group terrorist attack resulting in the death of others. The offense carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The court ordered that the men, all of whom are citizens of Tajikistan, be held in pre-trial custody until May 22.
Mirzoyev, Rachabalizoda, and Shamsidin Fariduni all admitted guilt after being charged. The fourth, Faizov, was brought to court directly from a hospital in a wheelchair and sat with his eyes closed throughout the proceedings. He was attended by medics while in court, where he wore a hospital gown and trousers and was seen with multiple cuts.




Mukhammadsobir Faizov, one of the four massacre suspects, was brought to court in a wheelchair from a hospital, where he was treated for multiple cuts. (AP)

The other three suspects appeared in court heavily bruised with swollen faces amid reports in Russian media that they were tortured during interrogation by the security services.
One suspect, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, had a heavily bandaged ear. Russian media reported Saturday that one of the suspects had his ear cut off during interrogation. The Associated Press couldn’t verify the report or the videos which purported to show this.
The hearing came as Russia observed a national day of mourning, following the attack Friday on the suburban Crocus City Hall concert venue that killed at least 137 people.
The attack, which has been claimed by an affiliate of the Daesh group, is the deadliest on Russian soil in years.
Russian authorities arrested the four suspected attackers Saturday, with seven more people detained on suspicion of involvement in the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an address to the nation Saturday night. He claimed they were captured while fleeing to Ukraine, something that Kyiv firmly denied.
There was a heavy police presence around the court as the suspects were brought in.
One of the suspects was led blindfolded into the courtroom. His blindfold was removed and a black eye was visible.




Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, a suspect in the Crocus City Hall shooting on Friday is escorted by an FSB officer in the Basmanny District Court in Moscow, early on March 25, 2024. (AP Photo)

The attack, which has been claimed by an affiliate of the Daesh group, is the deadliest on Russian soil in years.
Russian authorities arrested four suspected attackers on Saturday, with seven more detained on suspicion of involvement in the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a nighttime address to the nation, on Saturday. He claimed they were captured while fleeing to Ukraine, something that Kyiv firmly denies.
Family and friends of those still missing waited for news of their loved ones as Russia observed a day of national mourning on Sunday.
Events at cultural institutions were canceled, flags were lowered to half-staff and television entertainment and advertising were suspended, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. A steady stream of people added to a makeshift memorial near the burnt-out concert hall, creating a huge mound of flowers.
“People came to a concert, some people came to relax with their families, and any one of us could have been in that situation. And I want to express my condolences to all the families that were affected here and I want to pay tribute to these people,” Andrey Kondakov, one of the mourners who came to lay flowers at the memorial, told The Associated Press.
“It is a tragedy that has affected our entire country,” kindergarten employee Marina Korshunova said. “It just doesn’t even make sense that small children were affected by this event.” Three children were among the dead.
As rescuers continue to search the damaged building and the death toll rises as more bodies are found, some families still don’t know if relatives who went to the event targeted by gunmen on Friday are alive. Moscow’s Department of Health said Sunday it has begun identifying the bodies of those killed via DNA testing, which will take at least two weeks.




This video grab taken from a handout footage released by Russia's Investigative Committee on March 24, 2024, shows law enforcement officers escorting two of the concert hall attack suspects to court. (AFP)

Igor Pogadaev was desperately seeking any details of his wife’s whereabouts after she went to the concert and stopped responding to his messages.
He hasn’t seen a message from Yana Pogadaeva since she sent her husband two photos from the Crocus City Hall music venue.
After Pogadaev saw the reports of gunmen opening fire on concertgoers, he rushed to the site, but couldn’t find her in the numerous ambulances or among the hundreds of people who had made their way out of the venue.
“I went around, searched, I asked everyone, I showed photographs. No one saw anything, no one could say anything,” Pogadaev told the AP in a video message.
He watched flames bursting out of the building as he made frantic calls to a hotline for relatives of the victims, but received no information.
As the death toll mounted on Saturday, Pogodaev scoured hospitals in the Russian capital and the Moscow region, looking for information on newly admitted patients.
But his wife wasn’t among the 182 reported injured, nor on the list of 60 victims authorities have already identified, he said.
The Moscow Region’s Emergency Situations Ministry posted a video Sunday showing equipment dismantling the damaged music venue to give rescuers access.
Putin has called the attack “a bloody, barbaric terrorist act” and said Russian authorities captured the four suspects as they were trying to escape to Ukraine through a “window” prepared for them on the Ukrainian side of the border.
Russian media broadcast videos that apparently showed the detention and interrogation of the suspects, including one who told the cameras he was approached by an unidentified assistant to an Islamic preacher via a messaging app and paid to take part in the raid.
Putin didn’t mention ISIS, known as Daesh in Arabic, in his speech to the nation, and Kyiv accused him and other Russian politicians of falsely linking Ukraine to the assault to stoke fervor for Russia’s fight in Ukraine, which recently entered its third year.
US intelligence officials said they had confirmed the Daesh affiliate’s claim.
“ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
The US shared information with Russia in early March about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow, and issued a public warning to Americans in Russia, Watson said.
The raid was a major embarrassment for the Russian leader and happened just days after he cemented his grip on the country for another six years in a vote that followed the harshest crackdown on dissent since the Soviet times.
Some commentators on Russian social media questioned how authorities, who have relentlessly suppressed any opposition activities and muzzled independent media, failed to prevent the attack despite the US warnings.
Daesh, which fought against Russia during its intervention in the Syrian civil war, has long targeted Russia. In a statement posted by the group’s Aamaq news agency, the Daesh Afghanistan affiliate said that it had attacked a large gathering of “Christians” in Krasnogorsk.
The group issued a new statement Saturday on Aamaq, saying the attack was carried out by four men who used automatic rifles, a pistol, knives and firebombs. It said the assailants fired at the crowd and used knives to kill some concertgoers, casting the raid as part of the Daesh group’s ongoing war with countries that it says are fighting against Islam.
In October 2015, a bomb planted by IS downed a Russian passenger plane over Sinai, killing all 224 people on board, most of them Russian vacationers returning from Egypt.
The group, which operates mainly in Syria and Iraq but also in Afghanistan and Africa, has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Russia’s volatile Caucasus and other regions in past years. It recruited fighters from Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.


Armenia recognizes Palestine as a state, says Armenian Foreign Ministry

Updated 8 sec ago
Follow

Armenia recognizes Palestine as a state, says Armenian Foreign Ministry

Armenia has officially recognized a Palestinian state, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday, defying Israel which is opposed to such moves.
Armenia supports a UN resolution on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and is in favor of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the same statement said.

India’s Modi leads yoga day celebration in Muslim-majority Kashmir

Updated 1 min 47 sec ago
Follow

India’s Modi leads yoga day celebration in Muslim-majority Kashmir

  • Thousands of government employees, schoolteachers and students were brought in for the event from all over Kashmir
  • A local resident describes the event as cultural intrusion, calling it an imposition to change the upcoming generations

SRINAGAR: Stretching, arching his back and kneeling on a mat, India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi led hundreds of people performing yoga in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir on Friday.

The exercises in Srinagar, capital of the Indian-administered part of the disputed territory, marked the 10th International Yoga Day, Modi’s own brainchild.

But while yoga is not itself a religious practice, it has its origins in Hindu philosophy – the god Shiva is said to have been the first yogi – and many residents of Kashmir are indifferent to the discipline.

Thousands of government employees, schoolteachers and students from all over Kashmir were brought in for the event, although rain forced Modi’s performance indoors.

Afterwards, he urged hundreds of people including many police and armed forces personnel on the shores of Dal Lake to make yoga “a part of their daily lives.”

“Yoga fosters strength, good health and wellness,” he said.

But one Srinagar resident saw the event as a cultural intrusion.

“This yoga is being imposed on our children to culturally change the next generations and control their minds,” they told AFP, declining to be identified for fear of reprisal.

“It’s an imposition on us.”

Rebel groups in Kashmir have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict, and violence has been largely suppressed since Modi removed the region’s limited autonomy in 2019 and imposed a security crackdown.

But his visit came after a series of attacks by suspected rebels opposed to Indian rule, including one that left 10 Hindu pilgrims dead.

Islamabad controls a part of the divided territory and, like India, claims all of Kashmir.

June 21 was declared International Yoga Day a decade ago and Modi has since led events at emblematic locations across India, and last year at the UN headquarters in New York.


Ukraine reinforces embattled hilltop town in east

Updated 34 min 5 sec ago
Follow

Ukraine reinforces embattled hilltop town in east

  • Chasiv Yar, which had a pre-war population of around 12,000 people, sits above nearby civilian hubs of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka
  • Ukrainian forces are struggling to hold the line there against better-resourced Russian forces

Kyiv, Ukraine: Ukraine has said is dispatching reinforcements to an embattled strategic hilltop town in the eastern Donetsk region, a vital flashpoint whose capture could accelerate Russian advances deeper in the industrial territory.
Donetsk has borne the brunt of fighting since Russian forces invaded in February 2022, and Ukrainian forces are struggling to hold the line there against better-resourced Russian forces.
“Units of the 24th Mechanized Brigade have been redeployed to strengthen the defense of the Chasiv Yar sector,” the grouping said in a statement late Thursday.
“The situation in and around the town is extremely difficult. The enemy is constantly organizing massive frontal assaults, and also trying to bypass the settlement from the north and south,” it added.
The unit had been deployed near the town of Toretsk, another frontline region where Russian forces have gained ground after a lull in fighting there, according to military bloggers.
Chasiv Yar, which had a pre-war population of around 12,000 people, sits above nearby civilian hubs of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka.
The Ukrainian military says it has been persistently targeted by Russian air strikes, and recently released drone footage from the town shows rows of bombed-out and smoldering Soviet-era housing blocs.
The Kremlin said in late 2022 that it had annexed Donetsk, which has been partially controlled by Russian forces and Kremlin-backed separatists for around a decade.


S. Korea, US condemn treaty between Russia and North Korea

Updated 21 June 2024
Follow

S. Korea, US condemn treaty between Russia and North Korea

  • South Korea fired warning shots after North Korean soldiers crossed border on Thursday

SEOUL: South Korea’s Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the new treaty between Russia and North Korea as a serious threat to regional peace and stability, Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The two in a phone call on Thursday also discussed ways to respond to the pact, and agreed to closely monitor the situation, the foreign ministry said.
Blinken said the United States supports South Korea’s responses to the agreement, in which Moscow and Pyongyang said each country would provide immediate military assistance if either faces armed aggression.
Cho said any cooperation to help strengthen North Korea’s military capabilities is a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, according to the statement.
The United States will consider various ways to respond to the threat to international peace and stability from Russia and North Korea, Blinken was quoted as saying by the ministry.
South Korean National Security Adviser Chang Ho-jin said on Thursday that Seoul will review the possibility of supplying weapons to Ukraine in response to the landmark pact.

Relations between the Korean neighbors had been tense again lately, with the North repeatedly dumping trash into South Korean territory via cheap balloons.

On Thursday morning, South Korea’s military fired warning shots after several North Korean soldiers crossed the border, the Yonhap news agency reported on Friday citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The soldiers retreated immediately after the warning shots were fired, the report said.
They had breached the Military Demarcation Line running through the middle of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), where they were working around 11 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Thursday, South Korea said.
It is at least the third such incident this month. South Korea’s military fired warning shots on Tuesday after dozens of North Korean soldiers breached the demarcation line.
The incident came after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Pyongyang for the first time in 24 years earlier this week.

 

 


US rushing delivery of air defense interceptor missiles to Ukraine to counter increased Russian attacks

Updated 21 June 2024
Follow

US rushing delivery of air defense interceptor missiles to Ukraine to counter increased Russian attacks

  • White House says it can do this by redirecting orders made by other allies for air defense systems
  • Russia has resumed its aerial pounding of Ukraine’s power grid while Kyiv’s forces are again targeting Russian oil facilities with drone strikes

WASHINGTON: The White House announced Thursday that it will rush delivery of air defense interceptor missiles to Ukraine by redirecting planned shipments to other allied nations, as Washington scrambles to counter increased Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.
National security spokesman John Kirby said the US had taken the “difficult but necessary decision to reprioritize near-term planned deliveries of foreign military sales to other countries,” though he wouldn’t say which nations would be affected or how many.
“Right now, we know that Ukraine urgently needs these additional capabilities,” Kirby said on a call with reporters, adding, “Obviously more is needed, and it’s needed now.”
The announcement comes after President Joe Biden, during last week’s Group of Seven meeting in Italy, suggested such action might be necessary, saying, “We’ve let it be known for those countries that are expecting, from us, air defense systems in the future, that they’re going to have to wait.”
“Everything we have is going to go to Ukraine until their needs are met,” Biden said. “And then we will make good on the commitments we made to other countries.”
The US was already sending Ukraine a consistent stream of interceptors for its air defense systems, including for the Patriot missile batteries and the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS. But Kirby said that more was urgently needed as Russia’s military has accelerated missile and drone attacks against cities and infrastructure centers “trying to destroy Ukraine’s energy system ahead of this winter.”

This handout photograph taken on June 18, 2024 and released by the Press service of the 24th mechanized brigade shows Ukrainian servicemen repairing military equipment at an undisclosed location in Ukraine. (AFP)

Russia has resumed its aerial pounding of Ukraine’s power grid while Kyiv’s forces are again targeting Russian oil facilities with drone strikes, as each side seeks to hinder the other’s ability to continue fighting.
The number of interceptors to be sent isn’t clear but Kirby said it could involve “hundreds” of Patriot interceptor missiles.
Kirby said Ukraine will get prioritized shipments as soon as systems roll off assembly lines for the next about 16 months, and those will provide the country with “enough capability” during that period.
After that, he said, “Countries that have been asked to delay will start to get” deliveries of systems they had already ordered.
Kirby said the move means “a range of countries” will face delays in receiving missile systems that are being diverted to Ukraine but that the shift would not affect Taiwan or what it “continues to need and receive for self-defense” in the face of potential threats from China.
Asked to describe how other countries reacted to the shift, Kirby said they were “broadly understanding of it.”
“They know how serious the need is in Ukraine,” he said.