Explosives also found from 2nd Russian plane wreckage
MOSCOW: Traces of explosive were found on the wreckage of the second of two Russian airliners that crashed nearly simultaneously, said a spokesman for Russia’s domestic security agency on Saturday.
Evidence of the explosive hexogen were found on a Tu-134 jetliner that crashed in the Tula region south of Moscow, said Sergei Ignatchenko, spokesman for the Federal Security Service.
The statement came a day after the announcement of similar findings on the wreckage of a Tu-154 that crashed in southern Russia and that officials said showed that the plane was brought down by a terrorist act.
The crashes took place just five days before residents of the warring republic of Chechnya were to go to the polls Sunday to choose a president in an election that the Kremlin portrays as a step toward restoring civil order in the region.
Officials had warned that Chechen separatist rebels could resort to terrorism to try to undermine the voting. The Kremlin refuses to negotiate with the rebels.
A Web site connected to Islamic militants claimed the crashes were retaliation for Russia’s ongoing war in Chechnya, and Russian officials said they were investigating the backgrounds of two female passengers with Chechen surnames, one on each of the planes.
On Saturday, the newspaper Izvestia cited a Chechen village leader, Dogman Akhmadov, as saying that the brother of one of the suspect women had disappeared three or four years ago and was believed to have fallen victim to Russian forces who are widely accused of civilian abductions and summary executions in Chechnya.
The Transport Ministry said on Saturday that passengers on domestic flights now will be obliged to show full passport details on their tickets, ITAR-Tass reported, citing an unidentified ministry official who said the measure will “make the process of documenting passengers and baggage more transparent and controlled”.
The first official confirmation that terrorists infiltrated Russia’s civil aviation system _ a vital industry in this vast nation _ otherwise prompted only a muted official response, with Russian authorities avoiding drastic measures such as closing airspace or grounding flights. ap