MOSCOW, August 15 (Itar-Tass) — Charges of preparing an explosion of the Sapsan high-speed passenger train running on the route from Moscow to St. Petersburg have been brought against members of an international group, the news about the detention of which became known in July, the Kommersant newspaper writes on Monday.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has collected much evidence in the case, and the defendants are facing long prison terms, the newspaper notes. The alleged organiser of the attack, according to the FSB investigation department, was a resident of Kabardino-Balkaria Islam Khamuzhev, 22, who last year moved to Dagestan. The same year, leaders of illegal armed groups sent Khamuzhev to Moscow where he met at a mosque with natives of Chechnya and Ingushetia -Murad Edilbiyev and Murad Umayev, as well as Fyarit Nevlyutov, who came from Mordovia and were residing in Moscow for a long time.
In June 2011, Islam Khamuzhev, as one of the defendants said during an interrogation, asked them to blow up the Sapsan passenger train on the Moscow-St. Petersburg route, and the friends agreed to take part in the terrorist attack. A small grove near the Firsanovka railway station was chosen as the explosion site. “Based on a reconnaissance, the future saboteurs drew up a detailed plan-scheme of the terrain, which FSB officers later confiscated from them,” Kommersant writes.
Russian Federal Security Service operatives managed to “get on the trail” of the terrorist plot participants, so security officials could monitor the progress of preparations for the terrorist act, particularly in its final stages.
In early July, the Lefortovo District Court in Moscow arrested all the four suspects for two months, and the FSB charged them with preparing a terrorist attack, illegal manufacture and possession of firearms and ammunition. The news about the prevention of a major terrorist attack in the Moscow region became known on July 18, when FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov reported on the work done to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Bortnikov told the president that “a major terrorist attack in the Moscow region has been prevented, a criminal group comprising four men from the North Caucasus who were preparing a terrorist attack at heavily trafficked facilities and transport infrastructure has been detained.” However, the details became available known only now.
According to the FSB head, “homemade explosive devices with a total yield of 10 kilograms of TNT, weapons, maps, diagrams have been confiscated.” “Several accomplices have been identified and confessions have been obtained,” Alexander Bortnikov said.
Bortnikov’s words were indirectly confirmed by defendant Murad Edilbiyev’s lawyer, Kommersant notes.
Sapsan (known as Velaro RUS EVS by Siemens) is a 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5·6 in) gauge high speed train in Russia. The design is part of the Siemens Velaro family.
The trains were expected to start regular service on the Moscow — Saint Petersburg High-Speed Line by November 2009 at a maximum speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) (an upgrade of the tracks for up to 330 km/h/205 mph is planned). The service was launched on 18 December 2009; tickets went on sale on 23 November.
On 18 May 2006 Siemens and Russian Railways signed a €276m order for 8 high speed trains with a 30-year service contract worth around €300m. The trains were ordered to connect Moscow with Saint Petersburg and later Nizhny Novgorod at a speed of up to 250 km/h (155 mph). They are derived from the German ICE 3 train but with bodies widened by 330 mm (13 in) to 3,265 mm (10 ft 8.5 in) to suit Russia’s wide loading gauge. Four of the trains (“EVS2”) are equipped for both 3 kV DC and 25 kV 50 Hz AC operation. The total length of each ten-car train is 250 m (820 ft), carrying up to 600 passengers. Development and construction is being carried out by Siemens at Erlangen and Krefeld in Germany. In August 2009 it was announced that the fifth Sapsan has been delivered to Russia, of the eight that are planned.
Four single-voltage (“EVS1”, 3 kV DC powered) trains entered passenger service at the end of 2009 on the Moscow – St Petersburg route, with the dual-system trains (EVS2) entering service on the Nizhny Novgorod route on 30 July 2010. Sapsan set records for the fastest train in Russia on 2 May 2009, travelling at 281 km/h (175 mph) and on 7 May 2009, travelling at 290 km/h (180 mph). Since entering service in December 2009 it has been Russian Railways’ only profitable passenger service, with an occupancy rate of 84.5 percent.
On August 13, 2007 an intercity passenger train heading to St. Petersburg from Moscow derailed shortly before reaching Malaya Vishera after a bomb explosion. There were 30 injuries and no deaths, and railway traffic was blocked in both directions for a few days. Two men from the Ingushetia region of North Caucasus, Salambek Dzakhkiyev and Maksharip Khidriyev, have been charged in relation to this incident. They have been acquitted in January 2010 on the terrorism charge, but sentenced to prison terms on related charges.
On November 27, 2009 four cars from train No. 166 (Nevsky Express speed train) derailed while travelling between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The derailment was a terrorist act caused by the detonation of 7 kilograms (15 lb) TNT equivalent. At least 27 people were killed and 96 injured. In a secondary explosion on November 28, directed at investigators, Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee, was injured and hospitalised. The incident was reported to have similarities with the 2007 explosion on the same railway line.