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Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 18:28 GMT
Russia charges bombing suspects
Moscow bombed flat
Chechens were the first to be suspected
Six suspects have been charged in connection with a series of bomb attacks on residential buildings that killed some 300 people in Moscow and two other Russian cities last autumn.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) blamed the blasts on Chechen rebels, repeating allegations widely made in Russia at the time of the bombings.

Officials said the explosives used in the blasts were produced in the Chechen city of Urus-Martan, and a cache of the same type of explosives was discovered after the city fell to Russian troops fighting in the breakaway republic.

FSB official Nikolai Sapozhkov said that five of the six accused had been charged in absentia.

The sixth suspect, identified as Ruslan Magayayev, is being held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, Mr Sapozhkov said.

No details were given about the suspects' nationalities.

Attacks averted

Another senior FSB official, Alexander Shagako, told the news conference that the agency had prevented at least six other major terrorist attacks in Moscow.

Mr Sapozhkov said the charges related to two of the blasts in Moscow last September. He said the accused had transported the explosives, disguised as sugar, from Chechnya to Moscow by road.

Vladimir Putin
Putin dismissed the allegation as immoral
Three explosions in less than week provoked a massive police crackdown, which failed to reveal any suspects.

At the time, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov condemned all acts of violence in Russia, although there was widespread suspecion that Chechen elements were responsible.

Some Russian media have speculated that the bombings were arranged by the FSB itself, to ensure public support for the Chechnya war.

Russia's acting President Vladimir Putin dismissed the allegations as "delirious nonsense" in an interview last week.

"There are no people in the Russian secret services who would be capable of such crime against their own people," Mr Putin, a 15-year KGB veteran, told the Kommersant newspaper.

"The very allegation is immoral."

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