Investigative Committee Cites Management Negligence as Reason for Terrorist Attack on Domodedovo

May 20, 2016
Dmitry Kamenshchik in the defendants' cage in a Moscow city court room. Photo by Moscow City News Agency.

LIVE UPDATES: Negligence by the management of Domodedovo Airport enabled the 2011 terrorist attack on the airport, said Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee. While a settlement has been reached between management of Domodedovo and the victims, the owner of the airport, Dmitry Kamenshchik, remains under house arrest.

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Investigative Committee Cites Management Negligence as Reason for Domodedovo Attack; Owner to Remain Under House Arrest

Negligence by the management of Domodedovo Airport enabled the 2011 terrorist attack on the airport, said Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee.

The management of Domodedovo, Moscow’s domestic airport,  changed the terms of their license and removed a point regarding airport security which led to staff reductions, enabling the terrorists to set off bombs at the entrance to the airport.

Domodedovo had upgraded its metal detectors in 2004 after a suicide bombing attack by two female terrorists. But eventually because of the crowds, management reduced the number of people actually required to go through metal detectors as they entered the airport. Last year, metal-detecting gloves were introduced.

Russian authorities recently placed under arrest billionaire Dmitry Kamenshchik, owner of the airport, and other managers in a case seeking to make them responsible for lapses that led to the killing of 37 people and injury of 176 . Kamenshchik was denied a request to be released on 50 million-ruble bail and lighter terms for his house arrest.

Instead of having two people placed at checkpoints in Domodedovo, there were only one person at each station. “They had a formal attitude toward checking suspicious people, and therefore the terrorist attack occurred,” said Markin. He added that terrorists in custody knowledgeable about the plans for the attack have given testimony saying the bombers spent a long time selecting the target “because there was zero security” there.

Accounts differ on the agents of the attack; according to officials, a male suicide bomber was responsible, and his head was found in the aftermath of the attack; later he was identified as Magomed Yevloyev, age 20. According to press reports, there were two suicide bombers, one male and one female. Other accounts say a bomb with shrapnel was placed at the airport and detonated remotely, and three persons responsible escaped. Police arrested the sister of Yevloyev and her friend and charged them with involvement in the bombing but ultimately cleared and released them.

Ultimately authorities arrested 4 other persons who were tried and sentenced for the attack, including Yevloyev’s brother, age 15, who received a term of 10 years; the others were sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Caucasus Emirate, a terrorist group designated by Russia, the US and other countries led by Doku Umarov, later killed by Russian forces, took responsibility for the Domodedovo attack.

Then-president Dmitry Medvedev fired transportation and police officials at the time whom he said were responsible for lax security. 

On May 17, the management of Domodedovo and families of those killed as well as surviving victims signed an agreement regarding the payment of compensation to them for their losses. The airport will create a charitable foundation with an initial contribution of about 150 million rubles ($2.2 million) and will make payments to the victims.

Meanwhile, the victims have agreed to withdraw their lawsuit against Kamenshchik after they receive payments, and urged that he be released from house arrest. Igor Trunov, the attorney for the victims also requested that the court honor the request to release Kamenshchik; the prosecutor supported this request which also came from Kamenshchik’s attorney. However on May 18, the court supported a petition from the investigation to keep Kamenshchik under house arrest, RBC reported, reviving speculation about the government’s ulterior motives in wresting the airport from him.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick