The alleged organizer of the St. Petersburg terrorist attack has been detained. Who is he?
On the evening of April 17, the FSB published a video recording of the detention of one of the alleged organizers of the terrorist attack in the St. Petersburg metro. The video shows authorities catching up with the suspect and taking him to the ground. He pronounces the name Abror Azimov and then says that he almost understands why he is being detained. Meduza relates what is known about Azimov and developments in the investigation into the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.
The Russian passport-bearing native of Kyrgyzstan was caught near a railway crossing in the Odintsovo district of the Moscow region. He carried a Makarov pistol; one can clearly see operatives pulling his weapon out from under his belt on the videotape posted by the FSB. Authorities believe that it was Azimov who had indoctrinated suicide bomber Akbarzhon Dzhalilov. The investigative Committee did not mention the detainee’s specific role in the criminal case. Moscow’s Basmanny Court will hold a hearing on Azimov’s arrest on April 18.
According to newspaper Kommersant, authorities were able to find the suspect thanks to the analysis of telephone contacts. Attack perpetrator Dzhalilov called Azimov just before the terrorist attack. Authorities had spent several days searching for Azimov before intercepting his telephone call and detaining him shortly thereafter. Azimov was in hiding from the moment of the terrorist act and did not appear at the apartment he was renting.
Azimov has lived in Russia since 2008. The detainee was born in 1990 in the Jalalabad region of Kyrgyzstan. At the age of 18, he obtained a Kyrgyz passport and left for Russia, where his father – a Russian citizen – lived. Azimov’s mother is a citizen of Kyrgyzstan. The man did not visit his homeland more than once a year. In 2013, he obtained Russian citizenship and renounced his Kyrgyz citizenship. Newspaper Kommersant has called him an ethnic Uzbek. According to the newspaper, Azimov, like two other suspects in the St. Petersburg terrorist attack – Sadyk Ortikov and Shokhista Karimova – worked in the Lesnoye cafe on the Minsk Highway.
The alleged organizer of the terrorist act has repeatedly visited Turkey. According to news source Fontanka, Azimov flew to Turkey twice in 2016 – once in March and once in October – each time for a duration of three days. The second time, however, he returned to Moscow through a rather unusual route – he flew to Seoul and then to Vladivostok. There is no information about possible connections between Azimov and Islamists in Turkey. It is also unknown whether he belonged to any international terrorist organizations.
Azimov is the ninth detainee in the case of the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. Six people – Seyfulla Khakimov, Ibrahibjon Ermatov, Dilmurod Muidinov, Bahram Yergashov, Azamjon Mahmudov, and Mahamadyusuf Mirzaalimov – were detained in St. Petersburg; almost nothing is known about them. Sodik Ortikov and Shokhista Karimova, who worked in the Lesnoye cafe, were detained in the Moscow suburbs. Ortikov was found in a Moscow apartment with two TNT checkers and a F-1 grenade. Karimova and Ortikov deny their involvement in the terrorist attack, which killed 14 people. It is unknown what the connections are between Abror Azimov and the detainees in St. Petersburg.