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Results of the trial for the first Nevsky Express bombing
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, 15 2010

Broadcasted on 'The Turn'

Guests: Journalist Yulia Latynina

Presenters: Yevgeny Buntman, Antonina Samsonova

BUNTMAN: It is 5and a half minutes past 4pm in Moscow. Thisis 'The Turn', on a Friday with Yevgeny Buntman and Tonya Samsonova. We're discussing the court's decision and, in general, the trial of the first please don't get mixed up of the first Nevsky Express bombing. TheNovgorod regional court announced passed sentences on the defendants in the 2007bombing of the Nevsky Express train line. Onedefendant was sentenced to 10years imprisonment in a penal colony, and the other to 4years. Andthe question that immediately arises is: were they acquitted under the law governing terrorism? Salambek Dzahkiev and Maksharip Khidriev were only sent to prison for the illegal purchase and transportation of ammunition and explosives, and for robbery.

SAMSONOVA: Isn't it a kind of terrorism?

BUNTMAN: It wasn't terrorism. Thisis the first question. Ididn't really understand how it happened, but maybe there's some version in 'Novaya Gazeta'. Yulia Latynina. Goodafternoon, Yulia.

LATYNINA: Good afternoon.

SAMSONOVA: Good afternoon.

BUNTMAN: Do you have any explanation as to why the terrorism law wasn't used in sentencing?

LATYNINA: You know, actually, Idon't. Unfortunately, Ididn't read the criminal case, and in such cases it's always very important to know all the details and facts. Iclosely followed what was in print, and it left me feeling extremely dismal, but Icouldn't make out any of the facts, so Ihave no opinion about the guilt or innocence of the accused. There were some dark moments, however. Thefirst obvious one is the grim fact that in 2009the same people used the same scheme to blow up the Nevsky Express, and, accordingly, we can at least say that the organizers of that attack haven't been caught, and that neither Khidriev nor Dzahkiev helped catch them.

Next we have a problem with the arrest and Khidriev and Dzahkiev, which took place just a few months after a bombing in Ingushetia. Atthe time it was the height of Zyazikov (ed: president of Ingushetia, 2002-2008) and at that point they could've arrested anyone for anything, especially if he was close to the militants. Andthey could've just, excuse me, thrust a toilet brush up his rear end and gotten all sorts of testimony out of him. Andif the pipe brush is more or less the main tool for investigators to get information out of someone concerning his involvement with rebels, then when investigating a terror attack that brush somehow just doesn't do the trick.

Next some very unpleasant things started happening. Twice, the case was sent back for further investigation, which is a very bad sign. Thenthe case was exiled to Novgorod, which is an even worse sign. Theinvestigator who was involved in case was the same one who was involved in the death of Yuri Shchekochikhin (ed: a Russian investigative journalist who died on July 3rd, 2006under circumstances similar to Litvinenko). Ifyou remember, this was the investigator with the politically correct instincts who found no signs of a crime. Andfinally, whenever a case falls apart for one reason or another, the prosecutor's office usually desires to initiate additional cases, which act like sort of a fish catcher, and here too we see that they opened an additional case. Thelawyer for one of the accused was caught and arrested and imprisoned for attempted bribery. Inthis case the lawyer explained what happened: his client was being tortured, brutally tortured and beaten in prison, and they extorted from the defendant in the case a bribe so that they wouldn't kill him, but when the bribe was given, then, accordingly, they tossed the lawyer in jail.

And yet another such moment, if you remember, they released Khidriev's brother, who was originally arrested, and in the first version of the investigation he was driving somewhere with him. Thisis very strange, because, as you know, in terrorism cases they never release anyone. It's possible to imagine, for example, that they let his brother go and said: Well, we'll let Amirkhan go take the fall for all of this. Butif you don't, then we'll hang it all on him.

BUNTMAN: But how did it turn out? Iunderstand that at first Khidriev made a confession, and then at the trial he said that it was beaten out of him. Butat this point both defendants have been sentenced to prison, all the while still maintaining they're completely innocent.

LATYNINA: Well, you know, defendants are always saying that they're completely innocent, and that is no proof of complete innocence, just as confessions extracted from someone using the above mentioned brushes and other tools are proof of guilt. AsI said this whole time, this trial, in my opinion, is simply a record breaker. Inthe press there wasn't a single fact on which you could judge according to your internal logic whether they were guilty or innocent, and if they were guilty, then what? Justfor being involved with militants, or at least being indirectly involved in blowing up the tracks of the Nevsky Express?

BUNTMAN: Yes, indeed, this is the first question that arises. Ofwhat are these people guilty? Whatwere they up to? Werethey carrying explosives? Whatdid they do with the bomb? Whoare they, the organizers of a terrorist act, or the perpetrators? Orwere they the ones who ordered it? Forme, anyway, it isn't clear.

LATYNINA: Well, we have, unfortunately, one very scary point, and that point is that the Nevsky Express was blown up again. Thesame people did this, and, therefore, the investigation didn't achieve its goal. Itdidn't prevent a second bombing. Whatwas the trial for? Sothat the Nevsky Express didn't get blown up again. So, by definition, this case was a failure. Thatis, relatively speaking, if you took those two people, and if they were indeed the same people Well, let's say, well, there aren't any clues. There's the understanding that these are the ones who did it, but there's no evidence. IfI remember correctly, instead of presenting a printout of telephone conversations, they had some local woman who identified them when they were in a store. Youknow, that's even frivolous.

BUNTMAN: Well, to us, in any case, there's only one thing that's really clear, and that's that these two didn't blow up the Nevsky Express the second time.

LATYNINA: Because they were in jail. No, unfortunately, once again it really doesn't mean a thing. Because we often have investigations that are done so ineptly that even when someone is really guilty or really was involved in something that you could get them to testify about, they aren't able to prove participation, and so there's no testimony. Ihonestly wish Icould really look at the call records for these individuals, and see their initial and final testimony. Because Istill hope that there is something in that could somehow solve the issue in one way or another, because now it's not clear to anyone.

BUNTMAN: Well, you can, for example, suppose, and Imight be so bold as to do so, that the explosions were the work of some organization, but there certainly wasn't any organization sentenced. Forcertain, it can be said that there was involvement by a terrorist organization, there's no question about it. But, in any case, they won't go to prison for that.

LATYNINA: You know the most interesting thing, is that at least some of these people are to blame. Itis very possible. Inever stand for the point of view of lawyers who are very fond of saying: no, nothing was proven, everything just fell apart in court. Very often it isn't proven because the investigators worked very poorly. There you have it.

So for now we can say that. But, as a matter of fact, Ihave a different question, and the easiest of ones. After the bombing in Makhachkala, Mr. Medvedev had just given the order: We have to deal with the Caucasus, and increase vigilance. After the second bombing of the Nevsky Express, neither Putin nor Medvedev threw the same fit, and one got the impression that here was this unpleasant situation, for which one suspect was in jail, and the Nevsky Express gets blown up again, and they try to hush it up because it places not some kind of a Makhachkala in a bad light, but the federal government directly.

SAMSONOVA: Here we're talking about the fates of Dzahkiev and Khidriev, and we don't consider them terrorists, and the court didn't consider them terrorists they were acquitted under the terrorism law. Butwe are interested in who ordered it.

LATYNINA: You know, not to be a fly in the ointment, Irecall a jury, though it's true a Makhachkala jury, that didn't consider it (terrorism) either. Well, Ican add the most famous example of a terrorist who was acquitted by an Ingush jury, and then a little while later he was killed in Beslan. Orit may have been a Makhachkala jury that acquitted a man by the name of Magomed Salikhov, who argued that yes, he drove a truck to Buinaksk, loaded with explosives from Khattab, but he thought Khattab sold paint. After that, the above-mentioned person took up arms and a year and a half later he was killed along with one of the militia leaders, Vadim Butdaev. Sowith regards to the statement that this investigation couldn't prove a thing, even if there was something to prove, behold, we must amend this.

SAMSONOVA: But there are two names that we're interested in. Oneis former Russian service member Pavel Kosolapov, whom the investigation found to be the main perpetrator of the crime. Andthe man who ordered it was Doku Umarov. Whatare your feelings with regards to these figures? Doyou think it's plausible? Whois this Pavel Kosolapov?

LATYNINA: The authorities periodically talk about Pavel Kosolapov. Noone has seen him. Thisseems to be very plausible, but you know, my feeling is yes, this is right. But, again, there arise a number of questions. Forexample: there are a number of terror attacks that our country doesn't remember, because it doesn't like to think about terror attacks, and whenever there is an act of terrorism Putin usually disappears from the TV for 34days. There is a saying: no Putin on TV for 3days, this must mean that there's been a terrorist attack in the country.

Take, for example, the 2004bombing of the train in Yessentuki, or the bombing of the marketplace in Samara around the same time. HereI've been trying to understand things connected with these explosions, and here there were some very strange statistics, because in Samara at the marketplace there were corpses strewn just about everywhere. Everyone said that it was a bloody mess. Apretty awful bomb went off there. Itwas hung somewhere about 1or 2 meters over the crowd, that is, with the greatest blast power, and so it exploded, and later they said that only 10people had been killed. Butone gets the clear impression that the homeless weren't counted, and anyone who didn't have IDwasn't counted.

So, they don't say anything about these explosions, but when they remember Pavel Kosolapov, right away they say: Ah, he organized the bombings. It is very difficult to imagine that this same person organized the bombings in Samara, in Yessentuki, and in Moscow, and the Neva Express, twice, simply because our Russian terrorists aren't savvy enough. Theyusually operate quite primitively, in areas where they used to live. Thatis, the bombing of the market in Samara was most likely organized by a representative from one of the ethnic groups of the Caucasus there in Samara. Theimpression is that Pavel Kosolapov is the real man who set off several of these explosions, after which he has been credited with all the rest in order to save a lot of effort.

BUNTMAN: Thank you. Thatwas columnist for 'Novaya Gazeta' Yulia Latynina. Wetalked about the verdict issued today on the first bombing of Nevsky Express rail line, which was occurred in 2007.

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