Svetlana Petrenko, the spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee, gave an update on the progress of its investigation into the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall on Friday April 5. She said that experts had gained access to mobile phones belonging to the four gunmen, that they had tried to destroy before their arrest, which revealed important information.

Included in the data recovered were photographs of the access roads, the area surrounding and the entrances to the concert venue which she said were provided to their handler for use in planning the operation.

Petrenko then went on to outline the evidence that she said categorically showed Ukrainian involvement in the massacre.

The first indication was the fact that the reconnaissance mission conducted by the gunmen where they collected photos of Crocus City was Feb. 24, the two-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s so-called special military operation.

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The second piece of evidence was a patchwork of photographs from Ukraine of men in camouflage uniforms with Ukrainian flags, destroyed houses, a capture Russian tank and a Ukrainian postage stamp of a man in uniform making an obscene gesture that were found on the terrorist’s phone.

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The photo collage recovered from Crocus City gunman’s cellphone. Photo: Telegram

Petrenko said that investigative actions and operational measures aimed at verifying collusion between Ukrainian special services and international Islamist terrorist organizations in were ongoing.

The independent media site Agency News looked into the claims made by Petrenko and published its findings on its Telegram channel.

They said that many copies of the photos included in the collage could be readily downloaded individually from the internet and they also found the completed collage on two separate open sources – one as the avatar and cover of a YouTube channel and the other published on the Instagram account of a Ukrainian resident Oksana Vasyutina in February 2023.

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The postage stamp image was a reproduction of the Snake Island drawing telling a Russian warship “To go f**k itself.”

The media site says there is no evidence that the reconnaissance photos of the Crocus City Hall were taken on the anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It says that the released footage shows only the time with no date.

Petrenko’s statement seems undoubtedly intended to reinforce the insistence by Putin, 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, that Ukraine was involved in the attack.

Currently the only evidence they can cite is that the terrorists’ car was stopped on the M-3 highway, which leads to Ukraine. But even that was undermined by a statement by the Belarus President Lukashenko that the terrorists first tried to escape into Belarus but were turned away.

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