Vigilant Muscovite averts synagogue blast
Gazetz.ru, Russia, 21 April 2003
An explosive device planted near a Hasidic synagogue and a 16-storey residential block in central Moscow was discovered by a vigilant passerby on Sunday evening. The man noticed the suspicious looking object and called the police. An investigation has been launched and police officials are not ruling out that the attack could have been planned by neo-Nazis to mark Adolf Hitler's birthday.
One of the local residents saw a man planting the bomb and called the police. According to police reports, the device was planted at 2/6 Bolshaya Bronnaya Street, at around 2300 on Sunday. As he was about to enter his house, the alert resident saw a young man planting the device near a parked car. After the young man lit the fuse and fled, the man ran up to the device and pulled the fuse out. He then summoned the police.
A police squad, rescue teams and an ambulance arrived at the building shortly afterwards. The area was cordoned off and after a sniffer dog inspected the object experts confirmed that the device could be explosive, and evacuated the high-rise.
Explosive experts of the Federal Security Service (FSB) arrived at the scene and destroyed the item with the help of a special robot and a water cannon. Residents of the house were allowed to return to their flats only at 0300.
Pieces of the destroyed device were taken to a crime lab for further examination. According to preliminary reports the device was made out of two plastic bags, one of which was filled with nitre (to which the fuse was attached), and another contained picric acid, the head of the Digger-Spas rescue centre Vadim Mikhailov told reporters.
The police have started a citywide search for the young man who planted the device. A composite drawing of the suspect has been made. According to police officials, he was approximately 18 years old and wearing a black jacket. According to one of the leads being examined by investigators, the bomb could have been planted by a member of a radical youth group marking Adolf Hitler's birthday on April 20.
The area is situated in a picturesque, quiet part of central Moscow. Many prominent actors, artists and writers have lived in the area, including Yuri Nikulin, Svyatoslav Rikhter, Boris Andreyev. As well as a Hasidic synagogue, the Theatre on Malaya Bronnaya is located there.
On Monday morning the RIA Novosti news agency reported that upon examining the contents of the bags on Bolshaya Bronnaya, experts said there had been no threat because the device was not equipped with detonators.
According to a spokesman for the Moscow Main Police Directorate, the two bags ''contained aluminum powder, nitre, picric acid, and a safety fuse'', but ''no detonators'', an official said.
Another explosion was averted on Sunday at a polling station in the Kemerovo Region, where elections to the local legislature and regional administration were held. In the Zavodskoi District of Kemerovo, at a polling station set up at a local school, a cleaner discovered a suspicious looking bag.
Inside the bag the woman found several items resembling TNT blocks, cartridges, wire and a clockwork mechanism. After the polling station was evacuated, police and rescuers removed the bag from the school building and then destroyed it on waste ground. The mayor of Kemerovo expressed his gratitude to the cleaning woman who found the bag and has ruled that she should receive a 1,000-rouble bonus.