Moscow airport bomb: Dmitry Medvedev seeks shake-up

CCTV footage shows the blast as passengers walked through the airport

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Russia needs Israeli-style airport security in the wake of a suspected suicide bombing in Moscow, the country's president has said.

Dmitry Medvedev spoke out the day after a bomber detonated an estimated 7kg (15lb) of TNT at Domodedovo airport, killing 35 people and injuring 110.

He blamed airport officials for "clear security breaches", and called for sackings if negligence was proved.

Militant groups from the North Caucasus are suspected of planning the attack.

Speaking to security officers in televised remarks, Mr Medvedev said terrorism was the most serious threat facing Russia today.

He called for those responsible to be hunted down and their organisations "eliminated".


Israel's main international airport, Ben Gurion, is widely regarded as one of the most secure in the world.

All vehicles enter the site through a preliminary checkpoint where they are spot-checked by armed guards.

Security officers operate in uniform and plain clothes in terminal entrances and inside the buildings. The idea is to maintain a high level of vigilance.

Departing passengers are questioned by profilers before they arrive at check-in desks. Some are selected for additional screening, even body searches.

Hold luggage goes through an X-ray machine before check-in and is often manually inspected.

The airport's reliance on human intelligence and intuition as much as technology has sometimes attracted complaints of discrimination. However it boasts that no flight from here has ever been hijacked.

Still even Ben Gurion might not be 100% safe from a Moscow-style bombing. Preventing attacks on planes rather than airport buildings remains the main focus.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also took a hard line, saying that "retribution is inevitable".

"This was an abominable crime in both its senselessness and its cruelty," he said, offering government help to the families of those affected.

Airport defiant

In a hard-hitting verdict on the events at Domodedovo on Monday, Mr Medvedev said "pure anarchy reigned" at the airport.

"People were allowed to walk in from anywhere. The entrance restrictions were partial at best."

He said an investigation by the prosecutor general would establish whether transport officials were guilty of criminal negligence.

In the meantime, he ordered the interior ministry to propose dismissals or reassignment of transport officials, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Describing the terror threat in Russia as being higher than that in the US, Mr Medvedev said a system of "comprehensive checks" based on Israeli and US security procedures should be introduced at all transport hubs.

Airport authorities firmly denied any culpability.

"We fully met all the requirements in the sphere of air transport security for which we are responsible," spokeswoman Yelena Galanova said.

Austrian traveller Dr Johann Hammerer: "Injured people were lying on trolleys"

"We are an airport, we deal with air transport and are responsible for air transport security. All the existing requirements were fulfilled and we acted in accordance with the current legislation."

Mr Medvedev's remarks came as reports began to circulate suggesting some prior warning may have been given.

According to RIA Novosti, Russian authorities were warned a week ago that an "act of terror" would be carried out near one of Moscow's airports. Police were now seeking three suspects, it added.

Caucasus concern

Militant attacks in Russia

• Oct 2010 - Six people killed as militants storm parliament in Chechnya, North Caucasus

• Mar 2010 - Suicide bombings at two Moscow metro stations kill 40 people; attack blamed on North Caucasus militants

• Nov 2009 - Bomb blast hits Moscow-St Petersburg luxury express train, killing 26; North Caucasus Islamist group claims responsibility

• Sept 2004 - Chechen rebels seize school in Beslan; 334 hostages, including many children, killed in ensuing battle

• Aug 2004 - Suicide bomber blows herself up at a Moscow metro station, killing 10

• Aug 2004 - Two Tupolev airliners that took off from Domodedovo blown up in mid-air by suicide bombers, killing 89 passengers and crew

Monday's explosion hit the airport's busy international arrivals hall in a public area where friends and drivers meet passengers who have passed through customs.

Eyewitnesses told Russian TV that before a bomber detonated the charge, he had shouted: "I'll kill you all!"

Scenes of panic ensued as the area filled with smoke, with bodies strewn across the floor.

Eight foreigners were reported killed, with one Briton among the dead as well as a German.

Almost 50 of those injured are now in a serious condition in hospital.

Militants from the North Caucasus are frequently blamed for terror attacks in Russia, including a double suicide bombing in March 2010 that killed 40 people on Moscow's underground system. That attack was blamed on female suicide bombers from Dagestan.

Like Vladimir Putin before him, Mr Medvedev appears unable to find a solution that would bring stability to that region and peace to Russia, says the BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow.


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