Calls about bomb threats all over Russia: ''autumn fever'' or planned provocation?

Calls about bomb threats all over Russia: ''autumn fever'' or planned provocation?

Law enforcement agencies in large cities of Russia continue to receive anonymous messages about planted bombs, entailing the evacuation of citizens from shopping centers, schools, airports and office buildings. The Russian Defence Ministry denies the version about the drill, and the law enforcement officers tell about a planned provocation. As Realnoe Vremya found out, in Tatarstan the bad ''flash mob'' started even earlier than in the rest of the country.

Not drill but provocation

The first messages about bombs began to arrive on 11 September — then in law enforcement reports there were mentioned Stavropol and Ufa. On 12 September, this wave swept Omsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Bryansk and other cities. In some of them they received phone messages about mining of up to ten objects. On Wednesday, there were evacuated airports in Yakutsk and Blagoveshchensk, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky there were evacuated the city hall and several schools.

On 13 September, in the second half of the day it became known that the emergency services and law enforcement bodies of Moscow were checking the information about mining of several stations and shopping centers of the capital, as well as of the First Moscow State Medical University named after Sechenov.

In all cases, the threat was not confirmed. The media linked the events with military exercises, but the Russian Defence Ministry denied this version. It was reported that the law enforcement agencies were checking the version of a planned provocation coordinated by a group of persons with the use of IP telephony.

In all regions, the police opened a criminal case under the article 207 of the criminal code — ''Intentional false report about an impending explosion, arson or other actions creating danger of people deaths, causing significant property damage or the onset of other socially dangerous consequences''.

On 11 September, the law enforcement reports mentioned Stavropol. Photo: news.1777.ru

''Sometimes it is not quite healthy people who call''

On the background of these events, the press service of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Tatarstan reported that the police of Nizhnekamsk arrested a suspect in a telephone terrorism, who in a state of intoxication called on the single number of emergency services and warned about the intention to mine a shopping complex in Zelenodolsk. The identity of the caller was established in a short period, and after some time he was detained. The 37-year-old man motivated his act by a grudge against the police, and a criminal case was initiated under the article 319 of the criminal code ''Insult of a representative of the power''. However, as stated in the same message, the investigative department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Nizhnekamsk rayon initiated (apparently, later) a criminal case against the Nizhnekamsk citizen under the same article 207 of the criminal code (''Intentionally false report about an act of terrorism'').

As Realnoe Vremya found out, the man made his drunken call already on 1 September, and a Zelenodolsk shopping mall, chosen as a victim, was the shop Chayka, located on Gogol Street. In Chayka the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya was informed that law enforcement officers did not come to them.

Realnoe Vremya contacted the regional power structures to find out whether in the region there is being an increased activity of the telephone terrorists these days and are there held drills associated with the evacuation of people from civilian objects.

''No, everything is ok. Stable and quiet,'' reported the head of the press service of the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Tatarstan Irina Nizhelskaya (although, as we see, some concern still was). Nizhelskaya answered negatively to the questions whether they received calls about a bomb threat and whether operational services went to verify such messages.

A Zelenodolsk shopping mall, chosen as a victim, was the shop Chayka, located on Gogol Street

''Overall during a day we receive 2-3,000 messages,'' said the head of the press service Regional Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia across Kazan Rashid Khamidullin. ''Of course, it happens that drunk citizens, not quite healthy people call. Right now, I cannot give an accurate statistics, it's necessary to calculate and filter. As for drills, it is the competence of the FSB.''

Press Secretary of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tatarstan Fail Gumerov stated to Realnoe Vremya that they have not received the information about the calls about a bomb threat or evacuation in Tatarstan in the recent time, and that means that nothing happened:

''Each department has a plan in accordance with the objects the safety of which they ensure by virtue of their duties. So, usually the management is pre-warned, the administration of objects, and is the event itself is carried out. We mainly conduct them without evacuation. Evacuation takes place if there is interest of the administration of the object. It's a big diversion of forces and means, after all, the real situation can happen somewhere,'' said Gumerov.

''If they ignore me, tell them they have a bomb planted''

In Tatarstan, over the last year there were several high-profile cases of telephone terrorism. In April in Naberezhnye Chelny there was detained a 32-year-old local resident who was in a state of alcoholic intoxication and gave a false message about a bomb in the building of the traffic police. He did it also out of grudge. According to him, the duty of the traffic police department did not want to talk to him. ''If they ignore me, tell them they have a bomb,'' said the citizen to the operator ''02'' and hung up.

In November 2016, the trial of Ilnar Agletdinov and Artem Gibadullin finished, they literally terrorised the shopping and entertainment center Trading Quarter in Naberezhnye Chelny

In January of this year, an 8-grade school student from one of the schools in Almetyevsk called 112 and said (as she told then, as a joke) that a bomb was planted in her school. All emergency services of the city came to the place, students and staff of the institution were evacuated. The girl's personality was defined in 20 minutes.

In November 2016, the trial of Ilnar Agletdinov and Artem Gibadullin finished, they literally terrorised the shopping and entertainment center Trading Quarter in Naberezhnye Chelny (the so-called ''case of the ringers'').

The first one was sentenced to six years imprisonment, the second one — to four years. In August 2015, young people for six days left to the leadership of the shopping mall false reports of a bomb threat, extorting 70,000 USD, and then manufactured and really laid in a few dozen metres away from the center of the building a homemade bomb to give the seriousness of their threats. The terrorists were technically savvy — the bomb was reported through a computer programme, reading out phone messages in a female voice, and for the manufacture of explosive device it was used in addition to nitrate and aluminum powder two Samsung mobile phones (an explosion did not happen due to the discharge of one of them).

By Aleksander Shakirov, Rustem Shakirov