Investigators on Thursday released a first photo of a suspect in this week's airport bombing, a man whom they said belonged to the Stavropol-based rebel group Nogai Jamaat, as President Dmitry Medvedev inspected new security measures in the Moscow metro.
The suspect, Vitaly Razdobudko, 32, is suspected of organizing the suicide blast at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport on Monday that killed 35 people and injured scores, and he has been placed on a national wanted list together with “about 10” other people, officials said.
The Interior Ministry released a Stavropol police mug shot of Razdobudko that shows a bearded young man with close-cropped dark hair staring sullenly at the camera.
The remains of the suspected airport bomber do not resemble Razdobudko, Interfax reported, citing a source close to the investigation.
Razdobudko is a Russian-born adherent of the fundamentalist Wahhabi branch of Islam, which is popular among terrorists, a law enforcement source told RIA-Novosti.
He belonged to Nogai Jamaat (Nogai Battalion), an obscure rebel group raided by law enforcement officers in October, and he has been linked to an August bombing in Pyatigorsk, an attempted bombing in the city of Stavropol in September and a Moscow explosion on New Year's Eve that killed just one person, a suspected terrorist, Kommersant reported.
Razdobudko went missing in late October, and his relatives told police at the time that he might have been killed by rebels after he tried to cut off all contact with them, the report said.
But investigators believe Razdobudko vanished to prepare an attack on Manezh Square, just beside Red Square, on Dec. 31, it said.
He purportedly pressured the widow of a slain North Caucasus rebel into agreeing to blow herself up in the crowd, threatening to kidnap her children otherwise, but the bomb accidentally went off hours before the attack, killing only the woman.
Chechen native Zeinap Suyunova, 24, who is suspected of renting a Moscow house on behalf of the failed New Year's bomber, was detained in Volgograd earlier this month.
Suyunova's husband, Anverbek Amangaziyev, a suspected member of Nogai Jamaat, was arrested in October after a shootout in Chechnya that killed the group's leader, Temerlan Gadziyev.
The number of people seeking treatment in the hospital after Monday's airport attack swelled to 123 on Thursday from 117 the previous day, the Health and Social Development Ministry said. Minister Tatyana Golikova said earlier that the figure was growing because some did not seek medical help immediately after the incident.
Attack-related dismissals, started by Medvedev on Wednesday with the ouster of four police officials, continued Thursday as Transportation Minister Igor Levitin fired four subordinates, Interfax reported.
Levitin also recommended the dismissal of Federal Transportation Inspection Service head Gennady Kurzenkov. He did not elaborate, and Kurzenkov — who has gained notoriety in the blogosphere because his car has often been spotted driving in the wrong lane with a flashing blue light — said he had not been informed of his possible ouster.
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said an agency might be created to oversee security on transportation. He did not elaborate.
The Interior Ministry currently has a branch responsible for security on transportation.
Over the next few days, all downtown buildings will be checked for possible explosives and illegal migrants, Interfax reported, citing Moscow's Central Administrative District officials.
Medvedev, meanwhile, toured a Moscow metro station with an entourage of top officials to examine recently installed security equipment.
Medvedev, who ordered heightened security in the metro after the twin bombings that killed 40 last March, descended into the Okhotny Ryad station in the company of Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Federal Security Service chief Alexander Bortnikov and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, among others.
Metal detectors were installed in the station last month, and it so far remains the only one of the metro's 182 stations to have them.
Interfax said Medvedev's visit did not disrupt traffic at the station.