Preliminary hearings have started in Moscow over the fatal bombing in 2009 of the Nevsky Express train, which connects Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Among those accused are ten residents of Ingushetia in the North Caucasus, all of whom are thought to be part of the Wahhabi group formerly headed by Said Buryatsky.
The hearings are being held behind closed doors with the media not allowed inside, as many documents referred to in the trial are of a confidential nature. The court premises are reported to be under special guard. The main hearings will start on September 12.
The Nevsky Express high-speed train, travelling between Moscow and St. Peterburg, was derailed on November 27, 2009, after a bomb with the equivalent of 7kg (15 lbs) of explosives was detonated on the track, killing 28 people and injuring 130 others.
When the police and investigators arrived at the site, the train was hit by a second blast, which injured the head of the Investigative Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin.
A counter-terrorist operation was carried out in March 2010 and ten members of the group were arrested and eight killed in a firefight. Reportedly, among those killed was Said Buryatsky himself.
The police also found an underground explosive device laboratory in Ingushetia’s Nazran district, along with more than one ton of explosive materials and a large stockpile of weapons and ammunition.
The Moscow-St. Petersburg railway has long been a favourite target for terrorists. An explosion in 2007 left 30 people injured. In July 2011, Moscow police detained members of a subversive group that were preparing a new terrorist act on the Moscow-St. Petersburg line. Four terrorists were arrested thanks to timely information.
Initially, the rally was meant to commemorate the death of football fan Egor Sviridov, killed by natives of the North Caucasus. Inflamed by nationalist slogans, the gathering turned violent and was suppressed by the police. Since then, an investigation into the incident has been ongoing.
At the same time, investigation into the death of Egor Sviridov is also continuing. Five suspects have been arrested. One of them, Aslan Cherkesov, has been charged with murder, while the others are accused of inflicting serious injuries and disorderly conduct.