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Medvedev Inspects Vnukovo Airport

President Dmitry Medvedev having his pockets searched upon entry Friday at Vnukovo Airport, which he visited to check new security measures. Vladimir Rodionov

The latest surprise visit to a transport facility by President Dmitry Medvedev saw him popping up in Vnukovo Airport on Friday to discover that local police are understaffed, but passengers cannot slip in without going through metal detectors.

The trip followed Medvedev's sudden security inspections of the Okhotny Ryad metro station and the railway hub Kievsky Station, both conducted in the wake of last month's Domodedovo Airport suicide bombing that killed 36.

At Vnukovo, Medvedev himself passed through a metal detector and had his pockets searched by a female security service officer.

He also met with policemen manning the airport's precinct, one of whom complained to him that only five to six officers patrolled the airport on most days and that the total staff of 40 officers was "not enough," the Kremlin web site reported.

The officer spoke after his unidentified co-worker told Medvedev that there were currently 10 officers on patrol and that the number was "enough for the moment."

Medvedev said the positioning of policemen at Vnukovo fails "to take into account the necessity of terrorism prevention," and he ordered Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to address the issue.

But the president also praised airport security, saying there were "almost no places where a person could infiltrate … evading metal detectors," but at the same time, people did not have to wait in lines to pass through the detectors.

Nurgaliyev promised Medvedev that he would relocate some police officers from Vnukovo's boarding zone to the more crowded general area.

The president also ordered Transportation Minister Igor Levitin, who accompanied him to Vnukovo, to organize "entrance and exit control at the main transport facilities on the same principles," Interfax reported.

All railway stations nationwide will be equipped with metal detectors by late March, Russian Railways senior official Vladimir Yeryomin told journalists Friday, Interfax reported.

Moscow and St. Petersburg will be the first in line, with a total of 60 metal detectors set to be installed within three days, Yeryomin said.

He also said he hoped the police presence at railway stations would be increased.

Medvedev was furious after his trip Thursday to Kievsky Station, where he did not encounter a single policeman in the main waiting hall. A law enforcement source told Itar-Tass later that most officers simply were dressed in casual clothes, rather than uniforms.

Medvedev said Friday that he would order regional authorities, including governors and his envoys to federal districts, to conduct transportation inspections similar to his, the Kremlin reported.

He also ordered top security and transportation officials to draft by April a schedule for regular exercises on how to protect people in public places from terrorist attacks, to be conducted nationwide.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin followed suit on the presidential orders Friday, ordering Moscow transportation agencies to check and report on all transportation facilities,  City Hall reported on its web site.

Sobyanin also took note of Medvedev's Thursday call to develop the police dog service, commanding the Moscow government to build  kennels for 500 police dogs.

Meanwhile, media established the whereabouts of two Dagestani female teenagers reportedly put on a wanted list for planning suicide attacks similar to the Domodedovo blast.

Takhmina Abdullayeva, mother of 16-year-old Aigyul Abdullayeva, told Kommersant that she had to take her daughter home from a medical college in the Stavropol region town of Kislovodsk in September because the girl "came under the influence" of radical Islamists.

Since then, Aigyul Abdullayeva only went to Kislovodsk to take her college exams. She disappeared briefly after the winter holidays, and was placed on a wanted list after her family reported her missing, but has since returned home, her mother said, without elaborating.

The other suspect, Asiyat Adzhiyeva, also 16, told Kommersant that she was put on a wanted list after police briefly detained and fingerprinted her when she and her brother were giving a lift to Aigyul Abdullayeva in their car. Adzhiyeva said they fell under suspicion because both girls wore Islamic headscarves and the brother had no identifying documents on him.

Presidential envoy to the region Alexander Khloponin told journalists Friday that most North Caucasus rebels were teenagers, with their age averaging 18. He estimated the insurgents' numbers at about 1,000.

Khloponin also said suspects detained in connection with the Domodedovo blast confirmed that warlord Doku Umarov, who claimed responsibility for the bombing, could have been involved in preparing the attack, Interfax reported.

But Khloponin said at the same time that Umarov had lost much of his clout as a rebel leader and was simply "puffing out cheeks" in his recent statements.

The public was inclined to believe rebel threats, however, as 80 percent of the population feared that they or their relatives may fall victims to a suicide bombing, the state polling agency VTsIOM said Friday, citing a poll conducted in early February among 1,600 people nationwide. The survey had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

The search for new suicide bombers continued Friday, with law enforcement agencies in the North Caucasus on the lookout for four or five suspects following a tip that they were to arrive from Kazakhstan, Interfax said. No incidents or arrests were reported.

Vnukovo Airport functioned normally even during Medvedev's visit, which allowed a female passenger from Arkhangelsk to approach the president. The unidentified woman snapped a photo with the president and assured him that security checks were no nuisance for her and the other passengers.

"We understand that this is necessary," the woman told Medvedev.

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