In a speech shown on RIA Novosti TV at the 12th Congress of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia in Moscow on Thursday President Vladimir Putin once again dismissed the concept of Russia being targeted by “Islamic fundamentalists,” because of the “warm relations” that exist between Russia, its domestic Muslim community, and Islamic nations.

Interfax.RU quoted Putin as saying “Judging by what the investigation is now providing, we have every reason to believe that the main goal of those who ordered the bloody, terrible terrorist act in Moscow was intended to damage our unity. There are no other goals visible, there are none, because Russia cannot be the target of terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists.”

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“Russia cannot be the target of attacks by ‘Islamic fundamentalists,’ we are a country that demonstrates a unique example of interfaith harmony and unity, inter-religious unity, inter-ethnic unity,” he said. “… in the external arena it [Russia] behaves in such a way that it is unlikely to be a target for attack by Islamic fundamentalists. But the goal of undermining the unity of Russian society, especially in modern conditions, is certainly discernible.”

The March 22 attack on the Crocus City Hall, during which 144 civilians died and more than 550 others injured, was claimed by the so-called Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) militants. Almost immediately afterwards Putin tried to pin the massacre on Ukraine, the US and the “collective West,” in an address on TV. Since then, he has repeatedly said that the radical Islamist gunmen were controlled by others.

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Nikolai Patrushev - Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Alexander Bortnikov - Head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Dmitry Peskov – Kremlin Press Secretary, and the rest, are intent on pointing the finger at Ukraine and even the US and UK.

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Bortnikov, went as far as to say, without evidence, that the US, UK and Ukraine were behind the attack, with Kyiv providing an escape window for the suspects, which Kyiv, Washington and London have categorically and angrily denied.

Not only did the nature of the attack and its target match US March 7 warnings “that extremists had imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts.” IS-K backed up its claim of responsibility by publishing what appeared to be genuine bodycam footage of the attack as it took place on the ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq.

Claims by Moscow’s authorities that “Ukrainian fingerprints” were all over the incident have also been promoted by Russian pro-war bloggers and state media, are linked with the Kremlin’s attempts to “justify the invasion of Ukraine” and present it as an “existential threat to Russia,” according to the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

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