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Russia says found pro-Ukraine data on Moscow attack suspect’s phone

Russia says Moscow attackers got financial backing from Ukraine
Image: Russian Embassy UK at X

Russian investigators on Friday said one of the attackers behind last month’s massacre at a Moscow concert hall — claimed by the Islamic State (IS) — had pro-Ukrainian content on his phone.

IS has claimed responsibility on multiple occasions for the March 22 attack which killed over 140 people, but Moscow has repeatedly tried to link Kyiv and the West to the attack, despite repeated denials.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of trying to exploit the tragedy by implying, without providing evidence, that Kyiv was behind the terror attack, the most deadly in Russia for two decades.

Gunmen in camouflage stormed the Crocus City Hall venue on the outskirts of Moscow before setting the building on fire. More than a dozen suspects have been arrested including the four assailants, who are all from the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan.

Russian investigators said Friday that data from one of the suspects’ phones showed that on the morning of February 24 this year — the second anniversary of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine — he had trawled for photographs of the Crocus City Hall and sent it to others.

It said the suspect “had confirmed all this in his statements”.

There have been questions raised about the validity of the interrogations of those Moscow has arrested, after the four gunmen were dragged into a Moscow court showing visible signs of having been brutally interrogated.

Russia’s Investigative Committee also said it had found photos on the same phone showing men in camouflage holding the Ukrainian flag in front of destroyed buildings.

“This data may indicate a link between the attack” and the conflict in Ukraine, it said.

The United States said it had publicly and privately warned Russia in early March that extremists were planning an attack on a concert hall in Moscow.

Unnamed US intelligence officials told American media outlets after the massacre that they had told Moscow it was the Crocus City Hall specifically that IS was planning to attack.

Russia dismissed those warnings. Just three days before the attack, President Vladimir Putin accused Washington of “blackmail” and trying to “intimidate” Russians.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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