AM News: Clinton Accuses Russia of Hack; ISIS Calls for Jihad in Russia; Explosion in Makhachkala, Injuries

August 1, 2016
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at East High School in Youngstown, Ohio, July 30, 2016. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

LIVE UPDATES: Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has accused Russia of hacking her campaign computers. ISIS has released a new video calling for jihad in Russia.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Recent Analysis and Translations:

Russian Elections Round-Up: Parnas List Accepted; Party of Pensioners Forced to Remove Candidates
‘What Would Boris Do?” Opposition Struggles with In-Fighting on Eve of September Elections
NATO Got Nothing From Conceding To Russia In the Past, Why Should It Cave To The Kremlin Now?
Who is Hacking the Russian Opposition and State Media Officials — and How?


Explosion in Makhachkala Reportedly Not From Terrorist Attack But Gas Leak; 23 Injured

Details have now emerged from the explosion in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, Gazeta reports.

The blast at at the Layli Banquet Hall was the result of the ignition a gas leaking from a cylinder in the basement, not a terrorist attack, RIA Novosti reports, citing the Emergencies Service (translation by The Interpreter):

“According to preliminary data, the reason for the accident was the explosion of consumer gas. Investigative authorities are determining what caused the explosion.”

At least 13 and as many as 23 people have suffered injuries, Russian media reports.
Translation: 23 people were injured in Makhachkala as a result of a gas explosion in a restaurant.
Translation: Photo Report: Aftermath of the Explosion in Makhachkala

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

ISIS Releases Video Calling for Jihad in Russia

ISIS, the terrorist movement seeking to build an Islamic caliphate, has released a new video calling for jihad in Russia and threatening President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reports. According to Reuters, the video was released yesterday, July 31 in Russian:

“Listen Putin, we will come to Russia and will kill you at your homes … Oh Brothers, carry out jihad and kill and fight them,” a masked man driving a car in the desert yelled while wagging his finger in the last couple of minutes of the video.

The video with subtitles showed footage of armed men attacking armored vehicles and tents and collecting arms in the desert. “Breaking into a barrack of the Rejectionist military on the international road south Akashat,” read one subtitle.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the video but the link to the footage was published on a Telegram messaging account used by the militant group.

Russian media published brief excerpts of the video which showed the man yelling threats as he drove a car.

Isis угрожает Путину: Мы принесем джихад в России

Details… →

Aug 01, 2016 18:07 (GMT)

Meanwhile, today August 1, an explosion has occurred in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan in which at least 23 people have been injured, Gazeta reports, but no details are yet available and it is not known if ISIS has taken credit.  

Gazeta reported that in the ISIS video, which has not yet been verified by experts, a man speaking Russian threatens Russians with murder and warns that ISIS fighters will “soon come to Russia.” The video is believed to have been motivated by an increased cooperation between Russia and the USA in combating ISIS and Al Qaeda, says Gazeta.

Last week on July 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the war in Syria and agreed to ensure the distinction between “normal opposition members” and fighters from ISIS and Jabhat al Nursa. Last week Jabhat al-Nusra announced the end of operations linked to Al Qaeda, but this was not seen as a guarantee they would no longer be bombed.

If the sub-titles on the 9-minute video are authentic, says Gazeta, the video was made in the Iraqi city of Akashat in the province of Al Anbar in the north, right next to the border with Syria.
A large number of citizens of Russia, mainly from the volatile North Caucasus are reported to still be fighting with Russia. As Gazeta notes, the total number is hard to know, but in September 2015, FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov said there were “several thousand,” although experts said there could be as many as 5,000. On July 29, Bortnikov said that “more than 200 potential pseudoshakhids” were under surveillance by Russian intelligence, using the Russian term for suicide bomber.
“The officers of the FSB of Russia has conducted systematic work in exposing persons involved in the preparation of the so-called live bombs and terrorist attacks with their use.”
He said in 2015, Russian intelligence had found 2,900 people suspected of having combat training in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, and declared them as the “main recruiters” for new supporters of terrorism and preparation in the underground of terrorist attacks, as well as spread of the ideology of jihad.

Earlier this year as we reported, President Vladimir Putin said that “2,000” fighters from the North Caucasus had been killed on the battlefield in Syria.

Last November, ISIS released a video in Russian in which they vowed to begin attacks on Russian territory. Since then there have been a number of terrorist bombings or shootings for which ISIS has taken credit. On October 31, ISIS took credit for the downing of Metrojet Flight A321 which killed 224 people on board.. 

More than half of the members of the former underground of the Caucasus Emirates have sworn allegiance to ISIS; their leaders have been killed by Russians Forces. Not all Islamist fighters in the North Caucasus support ISIS, and before Russia began its bombing in September 2015, the differing groups were about to fight each other. Fighters from Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay have declared their oaths to ISIS.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
AM News: ISIS Calls for Jihad in Russia; Explosion in Makhachkala, Injuries; Child Dies of Siberian Anthrax
The ruble is trading at 66.25 per dollar and 73.97 per euro, and Brent crude is selling for $42.94.

The following headlines were taken from 7:40 na Perrone, Reuters, Meduza, Gazeta, The Independent, RBC, Novaya Gazeta and Ekho Moskvy

– Russian Military Helicopter Crashes in Rebel-Held Territory in Syria, Killing All 5 On Board 

– Fazil Iskander, Writer and Critic, Dies At 87

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