Russia said Thursday it had evidence the perpetrators of last week's massacre at a concert hall outside Moscow were linked to “Ukrainian nationalists,” a claim that the United States called nonsense.

President Vladimir Putin and his security services continue to allege Kyiv and the West were involved somehow in last Friday's attack, despite an Islamic State affiliate having claimed responsibility.

Putin said Saturday that 11 people had been detained after gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall, setting the building alight and killing at least 143 people.

“As a result of work with the detained terrorists, examination of the technical devices seized from them and analysis of information on financial transactions, evidence of their links with Ukrainian nationalists has been obtained,” Russia's Investigative Committee said on Thursday.

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It alleged the suspects had received “significant amounts of money and cryptocurrency from Ukraine” and said another man “involved in financing the terrorists” had been identified and detained.

“Investigators will ask the court to remand him in custody,” it said.

Ukraine and its Western allies have branded as absurd accusations they were involved.

“My uncle used to say ... that the best manure salesmen often carry their samples in their mouths,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday.

“Russian officials seem to be pretty good manure salesmen,” Kirby said, denouncing what he called Russia's “nonsense propaganda.”

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'Completely inappropriate'

The four suspected assailants – with bruises and cuts on their swollen faces – were dragged into a Moscow courtroom Sunday, all of whom were from Tajikistan, Russian media reported.

Russia's FSB security service said it arrested the gunmen while they were trying to flee to Ukraine, a claim seemingly disputed by Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who said they were headed for his country first.

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Islamic State jihadists have said several times since Friday that they were responsible, and IS-affiliated media channels have published graphic videos of the gunmen inside the venue.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave no indication on Thursday that Putin planned to visit the family members of those killed.

The Russian leader was seen lighting a candle for the victims at a Moscow church last week, but has not visited the scene of the massacre or publicly met with any victims.

“If any contacts are necessary, we will inform you accordingly,” Peskov said, when asked if Putin planned to meet family members of the dead.

He also said Putin did not plan to visit Crocus City Hall, where rescuers had for the past week been searching the rubble for bodies.

“In these days it would be completely inappropriate to carry out any fact-finding trips, because this would simply interfere with the work,” he said.

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Comments (3)

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Mark Rockford
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The Russians backed off the claims for a few days, ow they are resuming. We all knew they would. The whole point of orchestrating, or allowing the attack to happen, was to blame it on Ukraine so they could boost support for the war, and mobilize more people. Specifically more ‘normal’ Russians from more urban areas, as they’ve burned through ethnic minorities and prisoners they’ve been relying on heavily to fill out their ranks.

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John
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@thomas,

The sad thing is that putin allowed this to happen, hoping the young lives he knowingly sacrificed would give him more lying material to justify his illegal invasion. But he blew that MSO operation as well. The audit trail showing he knew in advance is available (from his own intelligence forces in Syria, as will as from the UK and the US middle eastern operatives).....3 warnings. He could suppress one of them.

Then even his Belarusian crony Lukeshenko contridicts putins' publically announced terrorist escape plan falsehood. Now his own security is starting to back track on their excuse for why it took them so long...almost 30->45 minutes to walk a block to the concert hall where the terrorist spend 18 minutes shooting before being cleared to drive 3 hours away. And he cannot suppress that information neither. The russians are being educated once again they are simply meat fodder for a madman's entertainment.

It's not going to end well for putin. I doubt russians will even let him live long enough to make it to the relative civility of a hanging in The Hague.

Oh well more room at The Hague for the rest in his circle that propagated his crimes.

Now would that include trolls?

As I recall NAZI propagandist in WWII did not fare so well after they lost the war.

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David
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In my opinion, evidence points to the fact that, whatever small influence ISIS-K may have had, most of the attack was orchestrated by the FSB.

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