National Mourning in Russia

The death toll has risen to 133, with another 154 injured

Russia is marking a day of national mourning after the massacre at the Crocus City Concert Hall in the Krasnogorsk suburb of the Russian capital. The deadly attack, which took place in the middle of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, killed 133 people, including three children, and injured 154 others, according to the latest figures from the Metropolitan Police. The attack, carried out by a group of four terrorists believed to be of Tajik nationality, was the bloodiest in Russia in the past two decades and the bloodiest in Europe, the jihadist group Islamic State ISIS said.

The Kremlin has pointed the finger at Ukraine. According to the Russian Investigative Committee, “four suspects in connection with the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall were detained in the Bryansk region, near the border with Ukraine.” According to the Kremlin’s version, the terrorists were trying to escape to Ukraine, where, according to the Russian security services, cited by President Vladimir Putin in his address to the nation, they had “connections” and had a “window of passage” set up for them on the border with Russia.

Weapons and Tajik passports were found in the white Renault car, in which the terrorists had fled. Russia is now investigating alleged terrorist ties with Kiev, recalling several attacks, including the bombing of the Crimean Bridge and the murders of journalist Darya Dugina and journalist Vladlen Tatarsky, organized by Ukrainian agents in Russia, while Kiev continues to deny any involvement.

“The whole country is mourning together with those who lost their loved ones in this inhuman tragedy,” Russian public television channel Rossiya 24 reported this morning, which broadcast footage from a huge digital panel mounted on the walls of the concert hall, “Crocus City Hall. 22/03/2024. We’re in mourning.”

Since yesterday, hundreds of commemorative events have been organized in various Russian cities, from Beslan, where a school was seized by Islamic extremists 20 years ago, to the Far East. In Simferopol, Crimea, a sign “Moscow, we are crying” was placed on the central square with candles. In St. Petersburg, spontaneous memorials appeared on Vasilyevsky Island and near the building of the Russian National Library on Moskovsky Avenue. In Perm, residents carried flowers to the Ural Volunteers Square, and in Orenburg, to the Angel of Peace stele. Residents took to the streets with flowers and toys to place at memorials also in Izhevsk, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza, Cheboksary, and Ufa.

Russia counts on the cooperation of all countries in the fight against terrorism. Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized this during the televised speech. “We know what the threat of terrorism is. Here we count on cooperation with all states that sincerely share our pain and are ready to really join forces in the fight against a common enemy – international terrorism – in all its manifestations,” the head of state said, adding that the investigation and police work will lead to finding out all the details of the attack on the Crocus City Hall.

Robert Fico

One of the first to respond to Putin’s call was Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who in a telephone conversation with Russian Ambassador to Bratislava Igor Bratchikov confirmed Slovakia’s “full readiness” to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism. “This morning, I spoke by phone with the Russian Ambassador to Slovakia Igor Bratchikov about yesterday’s terrorist attack on the outskirts of Moscow with heavy civilian casualties. Every country in the world has an obligation to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, regardless of who suffers the consequences, and it is in that spirit that I offered the Ambassador my cooperation. At the same time, on behalf of the entire Slovak Government, I expressed solidarity and sincere regret. Barbaric terrorist attacks with tens and even hundreds of victims shock even powerful and large countries like Russia,” Fico wrote on social media.