Putin blamed “radical Islamists” for the attack near Moscow.

According to the Russian president, Ukraine is still involved: it is a “broad campaign of intimidation.” Seven people have been detained on suspicion. The men were seriously injured. Human rights activists have condemned the torture of terror suspects.

According to Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, the terrorist attack near Moscow was carried out by Islamists. “We know that this crime was committed by radical Islamists,” Putin said Monday evening, commenting on Friday's attack, which killed at least 139 people. But the shooting fits into a broader campaign of intimidation in Ukraine, Putin added.

“This atrocity may be a link in a chain of attempts by those who have waged war against our country at the hands of the neo-Nazi Kiev regime since 2014,” Putin said. After the attack, the attackers tried to flee to Ukraine, and the question arose: “Who expects them there?” Putin asked, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, after meeting with representatives of various state authorities.

Masked attackers entered Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, a northwestern suburb of Moscow, on Friday evening. They opened fire on the spectators who came to the concert hall. The total number of injured is 182. After the attack, Islamic State (IS) jihadist fighters claimed responsibility for the crime and have since repeatedly claimed it.

Ukraine denies involvement

Western security officials and experts believe the confession is credible and suspect IS group Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISPK) behind the attack. Yet Putin and other Russian officials, without providing any evidence, have allegedly implicated Ukraine in the crime. The Ukrainian leadership strongly rejected this.

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The White House rejected reports by the Russian leadership about Ukraine's alleged involvement in “Kremlin propaganda.” Putin and his allies in the Kremlin are trying to find a way to blame Ukraine, National Security Council communications director John Kirby said Monday in Washington. “But nothing to do with Ukraine.” It was an attack carried out by fighters from the Islamic State terrorist group, Kirby continued. “Period. End of sentence, end of story – nothing to do with Ukraine.” Putin is only trying to justify the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.

Seven suspects are in custody

Four Tajik policemen were arrested for the crime. The Russian Justice Department ordered pre-trial detention for three other people involved on Monday afternoon. The decision was made by the Basmanny District Court of the Russian capital, state agency TASS reported. That means seven terror suspects are now in custody, including the four suspected shooters. A total of eleven suspects were arrested after the attack last Friday. The four main accused appeared before a judge on Sunday evening.

As the accused criminals were brought into Moscow's Basmanny court on Sunday by police and secret service agents, their serious injuries were immediately apparent. The men had severely swollen faces, cuts and bruises. One suspect had a bandage over his right ear, another had a black eye and a torn plastic bag around his neck. Another was said to be unable to walk on his own and temporarily lost consciousness. Videos circulated on social networks showing how the suspected attackers were tortured and one of them had his ear cut off. Three of the four suspects confessed to the crime, the court said.

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Kremlin spokesman Peskov declined to comment Monday on the numerous reports of alleged torture by Russian security forces. To a journalist who pointed out that the men's injuries were clearly visible in the courtroom and torture videos, Peskov simply said: “I will leave this question unanswered.”

Human rights activists have condemned the alleged torture of the suspects

However, human rights activists have condemned the alleged torture of suspects by Russian security forces. “The answer to barbarism should not be barbarism,” the Russian association “Komanda protiw pytok” (German: Team Against Torture) said on Monday. Violence and harassment had a very negative impact on the investigation, activists emphasized: “We have always said, and will always say, that the evidence obtained by the security forces through torture is of very little value. Instead of the truth, a person usually says that this torture can be stopped or interrupted.” Compelled confessions can lead the investigation in completely wrong direction.

Torture of prisoners also increases the willingness to use violence in society, explained Russian human rights activists “Komanda Protive Baitok”. According to the organization, in Russia, repression is gradually increasing, especially since the start of the war against Ukraine two years ago, and torture is repeated – but often behind closed doors. “This time we witnessed not only a horrific terrorist attack but also public torture. It is a method of paralyzing people through fear and making the entire society indirectly victims of violence,” he said.

Leonid Volkov, a confidant of Kremlin dissident Alexei Navalny, who recently died in a prison camp, believed the recordings were leaked to the public at the behest of higher-ups. Volkov wrote on the Telegram news service that it was new for the power apparatus to show its own cruelty. He said this may have been intended to divert attention from the “failure of the Russian secret services” before the attack.

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Three days after the terrorist attack, 97 injured people are still receiving treatment in hospitals. This was announced on Monday by the head of the health administration of the Moscow Region, Lyudmila Boladayeva. Patients are spread across clinics in the capital and Moscow region. The injuries were of varying severity, he told Russian news agencies. Grieving people continue to lay flowers at an improvised memorial site in the Crocus City site's fence. Cleanup continues at the destroyed Crocus City Hall. It cannot be ruled out that more bodies will be found in the wreckage of the burnt concert. (APA)

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