A Bashkir trucker called perpetrator of explosion in St. Petersburg subway. Who will be responsible for this?
Realnoe Vremya had an interview with Ilyas (Andrey) Nikitin, the photos of whom the media broadcasted in connection with the incident in the Northern capital of Russia
Metro explosion took place in St. Petersburg on 3 April, which claimed 14 lives, more than 50 people injured. Some media immdediately found a ''perpetrator'' of the attack — a man with a beard and wearing tubeteika. Footage from the security cameras were immediately spread on the Internet. However, already at night it became known that they called the wrong ''suicide bomber''. Ilyas (Andrey) Nikitin was an ordinary Muslim from Bashkortostan. Having found out that he was wanted, he went to the police to explain everything. However, the mishap for Ilyas did not finish on that. Nevertheless, Nikitin reacted with understanding even to the fact that after his explanation in the police he was withdrawn from a flight. The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya managed to contact him and ask a few questions.
''I realised that the suspicion would fall on me in any case''
Ilyas, there have been conflicting reports surrounding the events about you, the attack. Why did you decide to go to the police?
I do not remember on what channel I first learned about the attack. I read on the Internet. Then I realised that in any case the suspicion would fall on me because I was there at the time. I had not seen the picture of me. Then I decided to go to the police and tell everything what I saw, what I knew, to explain the situation. I had options to go myself and explain, or they would demand this information from me. I decided to go and tell myself.
After the media trumpeted about you as an ''alleged suicide bomber'', did the right defenders try to help you?
You are the first I am talking to so far.
Are you going to sue newspapers that called you a ''suspected terrorist''?
I haven't delved into the topic yet, so I don't know yet.
''I do not remember on what channel I first learned about the attack. I read on the Internet. Then I realised that, in any case, the suspicion will fall on me because at the time I was there. I did not see the picture of me.'' Photo: twitter.com/rentvchannel
''I was removed from the flight by the security personnel of the airline''
After explaining to the police, did you leave St. Petersburg? Where are you now?
Now I am in Moscow. I failed to fly with the airline Russia to Orenburg. I was removed from the board by the security personnel of the airline. They also cannot go against public opinion. They apologised and wanted to board me on another flight, but then they decided to transport me by another airline.
Are you from Orenburg or Bashkortostan?
From Bashkortostan. I was going to Bashkiria through Orenburg, to Kumertau.
Are you going to go to Kumertau to your relatives?
Alla birsa (May God give – editor's note), yes.
''I have never had a negative attitude towards law enforcement agencies''
The media wrote about you that you are half-Tatar, half-Russian. Why did you become a Muslim?
My mother is Tatar. In Islam I was raised under the command of my kartataika (grandfather – editor's note) and naneika (grandmother — editor's note) because I was brought up without a father. Of course, it is my mother who gave me the basic education. I was brought up in accordance with Tatar, Islam traditions and customs. For me, Islam is not alien religion. Although at some time — in the 1990s — I missed…
''We have state of law, praise be to Allah. When a person wants to practice his religion he will practice it. This right is guaranteed to man by our government, the Constitution of the Russian Federation.'' Photo: fontanka.ru
How did your family react to the incident with you?
I haven't spoken to them yet.
How often do you wear Tatar tubeteika?
Recently I have worn a tubeteika more or less often, when I joined the ethics.
Apparently, the beard has become a reason for such close attention to you in the last days. How often do you have problems due to the fact that you observe the commandment of Islam?
Not always. In fact, I move more or less freely in Russia. This incident happened according to the will of Allah, let Allah strengthen you, me. Indeed, after we said ''la ilaha illa'llah'' (there is no God but Allah — editor's note), we will be tested. Allah himself in the Qur'an says it. We have state of law, praise be to Allah. When a person wants to practice his religion he will practice it. This right is guaranteed to man by our government, the Constitution of the Russian Federation. I have never had a negative attitude towards law enforcement agencies. And they – to me. But still, our society believes that bad, negative things are done by Muslims.
Have you ever worked as imam, are you associated with spiritual offices?
I haven't worked as imam. In Novy Urengoy, I helped at the mosque.
''We are responsible for each other''
What do you do?
I am a truck driver. I transport dangerous goods, mainly diesel fuel. I have worked for four years at a state enterprise, I don't know how they will react. They came here, too, they asked about my work.
''The state seems to be holding the issue in order, but society doesn't really react properly. Perhaps, now the press will write more about the Muslim suicide bombers.'' Photo: Olga Rostovtseva
Are you afraid that there will be a new wave of Islamophobia after the explosion in the subway?
I do understand the word ''Islamophobia''.
Will the negative attitude towards Muslims be escalated in the society?
In fact, it has never stopped. The state seems to be holding the issue in order, but society doesn't really react properly. Perhaps, now the press will write more about the Muslim suicide bombers.
And you are not going to reconsider your style of clothes or shorten the beard after this incident?
Such talks have already taken place… I don't think I need to change something. Not for the first time and probably not the last time I have said this and will insist on this: there will be a beard, there will be tubeteika, Insha'allah, Islam will be in word and deed. What is ''La ilaha illallah''? The prophet Muhammad said that it is the word, the deed and the conviction of heart. By the grace of Allah, I firmly believe in my heart that my words and deeds, the Bismillah (in the name of Allah — editor's note) are not dangerous to the society. And most importantly for the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad, for Muslims, is that we are responsible for each other as one.
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