Russia’s president has fired a top transport police official and lashed out at “passive” officers who guard transport centres in the wake of the deadly bombing of the country’s busiest airport.
Dmitry Medvedev, often criticised as hesitant or ineffectual, appears eager to show he is in control after Monday’s attack that killed 35 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.
He announced the firing shortly before leaving for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he aims to reassure elite figures of international business that Russia is safe for their badly needed investment.
The airport attack, believed to have been a suicide bombing, is likely to unsettle investors not only because it underlines Russia’s persistent security problems, but because eight foreigners were killed.
The dead include two Austrian citizens, two Tajiks and one person each from Britain, Germany, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, according to a revised list released by authorities.
The bombing has demoralised many Russians, who are weary of years of separatist violence in Chechnya and other parts of the southern Caucasus and of terrorist attacks attributed to the separatists, including last year’s double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway system in which 40 people were killed.
No claim of responsibility has been made and investigators have not named suspects or presented a consistent account of what happened. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in a characteristically tough statement on Tuesday, vowed retribution for the attack, but it remains unclear against whom.
Mr Medvedev did not specify the reasons for dismissing Major General Andrei Alexeyev, head of the transport police for the region that includes Moscow. But he criticised transport police in general.
“The police that are at the large transport centres, in airports, at railway stations, take an absolutely passive position,” he said.
The chief of the transport police division at Domodedovo Airport and two officers have also been fired, by Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev.