Russian media slams Ukraine over Moscow concert hall attack

On Monday, President Vladimir V. Putin met with government officials and announced plans for the attack in the capital, as the Russian people mourned the victims of a bloody attack on a concert hall near Moscow that killed at least 137 people. They were scheduled to discuss the worst such attack in 20 years.

The government appears to be stepping up efforts to shift the blame onto Ukraine. On Sunday, hours after a local court indicted four men suspected of carrying out Friday night’s attack, the main evening news programs on Russia’s main TV channels suggested that Ukraine was responsible. Featured news coverage.

The main message was that Western countries were pushing the theory that Islamic State was behind the attack at Crocus City Hall, outside Moscow, in order to shift responsibility away from Ukraine.

“The United States and Europe understand that any connection between Ukraine and the Crocus City Hall attack is suicidal for Kiev and the entire anti-Russian alliance,” said Dmitri Melnikov, one of the broadcasters. Report on Vesti Nederithe main weekly news program of Rossiya-1, the main national television network.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. The United States said the attack was the work of the Islamic State of Khorasan, an offshoot of ISIS, and there was no evidence to implicate Ukraine. Ukraine denies involvement.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that the country’s intelligence services and their partners had determined that “an Islamic State entity masterminded and carried out the attack.”

France raised its terror alert level to its highest level on Sunday. Macron, without giving his name, said the Islamic State had attempted attacks in France in the past few months.

On Monday, mourners from across Russia rushed to deliver flowers at a spontaneous memorial service. Many Russians also went to hospitals to donate blood, state media said.

Three shopping malls affiliated with the company that owns the concert hall have announced they will be closed indefinitely. Emergency crews continued to remove debris from inside the concert hall.

Sunday’s bomb threat further exacerbated the general sense of anxiety among Russians, prompting evacuations of shopping malls in Moscow and other Russian cities.

But reports from Russia’s state news agency reflected how the Kremlin is determined to mobilize resources against a country it sees as its main enemy: Ukraine, which has the backing of a coalition of Western powers. .

Russian investigators have not uncovered any evidence to suggest that the four suspects, who are migrant workers in Russia and originally from Tajikistan, have ties to Ukraine.

In a report, Russian state television cited Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine, where he was arrested, as evidence of Ukrainian involvement.of The report also suggests It is possible that Kiev hired them to carry out the attack.

Tatyana Stanovaya, head of France-based political analysis firm R.Politic, said the Russian press’s focus on Ukraine was “purely political in nature, with domestic It is highly likely that they are targeting consumption.”

In a social media post, Stanovaya said Putin had been careful not to pin the blame for the attack squarely on Ukraine.

in be Statement regarding Saturday’s tragedyPresident Putin said the suspects were “heading towards Ukraine,” adding, “According to preliminary information, a window was prepared on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border.”

Macron said France had offered to cooperate with Russia in investigating Islamic State affiliates, adding that it would be a mistake to try to shift the blame for the attack onto other countries.

“I think it would be cynical and counterproductive for Russia itself and for the security of its people to try to use this context to antagonize Russia against Ukraine,” Macron said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said Monday that Putin will meet with Russian government officials and the heads of the Moscow region to discuss unspecified measures to be taken after the attack.

Peskov said he would not comment on the progress of the investigation.

“I urge you to trust the information you receive from our law enforcement agencies,” Peskov said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency. He added: “The investigation is ongoing. No coherent theory has been released yet. There was only preliminary data.”

According to a brief court appearance, the four suspects were foreign migrant workers who spoke little or no Russian.in Video of their court appearance, they appear to be severely beaten and footage of them being tortured during interrogation, verified by The New York Times, was widely spread on social media. One of the suspects, Muhammad Sobir Z. Feyzov (19), He rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair..

The arrest of the four suspects has raised questions about the regulation of labor immigration to Russia. and Congressman Mikhail Sheremet. He spoke to the state agency RIA Novosti. He said he would push for the reintroduction of the death penalty in Russia.

Aurelian Breeden I contributed a report from Paris.

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