2004 Russian aircraft bombings
|Date||24 August 2004|
|Site||Tula and Rostov Oblasts, Russia|
|Total fatalities||90 (all)|
A Tupolev Tu-134 similar to the one involved
|Flight origin||Domodedovo International Airport, Moscow|
|Destination||Volgograd International Airport, Volgograd|
A Siberia Airlines Tupolev Tu-154M, RA-85556's sister aircraft
|Flight origin||Domodedovo International Airport, Moscow|
|Destination||Adler-Sochi International Airport, Sochi|
The 2004 Russian aircraft bombings occurred on board two domestic Russian passenger flights at around 23:00 on 24 August 2004. Both aircraft had flown out of Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow and carried a combined total of 90 people, none of whom survived.
Note: All times quoted below are local times, UTC +4. All events occurred in the same time zone.
Volga-AviaExpress Flight 1353
The first to crash was Volga-AviaExpress Flight 1353, a Tu-134 aircraft, registered RA-65080, which had been in service since 1977. The plane was flying from Moscow to Volgograd. It left Domodedovo International Airport at 22:30 on 24 August 2004. Communication with the plane was lost at 22:56 while it was flying over Tula Oblast, 180 km south-east of Moscow. The remains of the aircraft were found on the ground several hours later. Witnesses on the ground said that they saw a strong explosion on the plane before it crashed. 34 passengers and 9 crew members were on board the plane. All of them died in the crash.
Siberia Airlines Flight 1047
Just minutes after the first crash, Siberia Airlines Flight 1047, which had left Domodedovo International Airport at 21:35 on 24 August 2004, disappeared from the radar screens and crashed. The Tu-154 aircraft, registered RA-85556, which had been in service since 1982, was flying from Moscow to Sochi. According to an unnamed government source of the Russian news agency Interfax, the plane had broadcast a hijack warning while flying over Rostov Oblast at 22:59. The plane disappeared from radar screens shortly after that and crashed. 38 passengers and 8 crew members were on board the plane, and there were no survivors after the crash. The debris of the aircraft was found on the morning of 25 August 2004, 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) from the work settlement of Gluboky in Kamensky District of Rostov Oblast.
The two almost simultaneous crashes caused speculations about terrorism. President Vladimir Putin immediately ordered the Federal Security Service (FSB) to investigate the crashes. On 28 August 2004, the FSB had found traces of the explosive RDX in the remains of both planes. Itar-Tass news agency reported on 30 August 2004, "without a shadow of a doubt, the FSB security service said that "both airplanes were blown up as a result of a terrorist attack". A little known group called the Islambouli Brigades claimed responsibility; the truth of those claims remains uncertain. The Islambouli Brigades have also claimed that five of their members were on each plane; experts are skeptical about the possibility of (and the need for) so many terrorists on board.
The subsequent investigation found that the bombs were triggered by two female Chechen suicide bombers, Grozny residents Satsita Dzhebirkhanova (Siberia Airlines Flight 1047) and Amanta Nagayeva (Volga-AviaExpress Flight 1303). Nagayeva's brother had disappeared three years earlier and the family believed he was abducted by Russian forces. Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev took responsibility for the bombings in an open letter published on the Chechen separatists' websites on 17 September 2004. He claimed that the aircraft bombings cost him US$4,000 in total. He has also denied the Islambouli Brigade's claims.
The bombings followed the Moscow metro bombing which left 41 people dead in February 2004 and preceded other deadly attacks in Russia soon afterwards: on 31 August 2004 a bomb killed 10 at a Moscow subway station, and then the Beslan hostage crisis began on 1 September 2004 which would leave over 335 people dead, many of them children.
On 24 August 2004, the bombers were stopped in the airport by the police captain Mikhail Artamonov to be searched for weapons and for identification. They were accompanied by two male Chechens, the four of them arrived to Moscow on a flight from Makhachkala. According to the prosecution, Artamonov let them go without doing the search, and subsequently was charged with criminal negligence. The prosecution asked the judge to give him six years of imprisonment. On 30 June 2005, he was convicted of negligence and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment. That sentence was appealed, and the court reduced the term of his imprisonment from seven to six years.
According to investigators, ticket seller Armen Aratyunyan was bribed approximately €140 (US$170) to sell tickets to the two women without getting proper IDs. Aratyunyan also helped Dzhebirkhanova to bribe the ticket-checking clerk, Nikolai Korenkov, with €25 (US$30) to get on board without a proper ID. On 15 April 2005, Aratyunyan and Korenkov were convicted of giving and taking the bribe, respectively. Because of serious consequences of the bribe, they were sentenced to 1.5 years in settlement colony each (settlement colony convicts have more rights and privileges than people in regular colony).
Twenty-one relatives of the deceased passengers filed a civil suit against the security company responsible for checking the passengers, ZAO East-Line Aviation Security. They demanded 3,000,000 rubles (approximately €86,600 or US$115,000) in damages per victim. The trial in that case started in Volgograd on 22 February 2007. The security company claimed that it was not liable for damages, but the persons who organized the bombings were. The court handling the civil case sent a request to the prosecutor's office to get an update on the criminal investigation. It turned out that the investigation was suspended indefinitely on 26 September 2006. According to the investigator who was handling the case, the people helping the suicide bombers at the airport were killed in Chechnya, the people responsible for planning the bombings were not identified (Shamil Basayev, who claimed responsibility for organizing the bombings, was killed as well), so the investigation was suspended due to lack of suspects. That civil case was still in court as of December 2009. Other passengers' relatives also sued the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, S7 Airlines and two insurance companies, Ingosstrakh and OAO Afes for damages (none of the defendants acknowledge any liability). On 21 October 2007, court in the latter case found S7 Airlines liable for damages and ruled they should pay the relative of the victim in question 250,000 rubles (approximately €7,000), which was about 10% of what the plaintiffs asked for. S7's initial appeal was rejected by the court on 27 May 2008. A new S7 appeal was successful in April 2009 and the verdict was thrown out. This time, relatives of the passenger appealed that decision, but their appeal was dismissed in August 2009. Then they planned to appeal to a higher court.
- Kurz, Robert W.; Charles K. Bartles (2007). "Chechen suicide bombers" (PDF). Journal of Slavic Military Studies (Routledge) 20: 529–547. doi:10.1080/13518040701703070. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
- "Bomb traces in both Russian jets". BBC. 29 August 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- "Russia plane crashes caused by explosives". Associated Press. 30 August 2004. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- Dougherty, Jill. "Chechen 'claims Beslan attack'." CNN. Friday 17 September 2004. Retrieved on 31 October 2011.
- "Suicide Bomber Kills 9 at Moscow Subway Station", The New York Times, 1 September 2004
- Мособлсуд снизил наказание капитану милиции, осужденному за халатность, повлекшую взрывы самолетов (in Russian). NEWSru.com. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- В Волгограде началось рассмотрение иска родственников погибших пассажиров Ту-154, взорванного в 2004 году (in Russian). NEWSru.com. 22 February 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- Генпрокуратура прекратила дело о взрывах самолетов, летевших из Москвы в Волгоград и Сочи (in Russian). NEWSru.com. 27 April 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- Родственники погибшего при взрыве самолета в 2004 году подали в суд на МВД РФ (in Russian). NEWSru.com. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- Voronov, Konstantin (22 October 2007). "Суд дал оценку жизни пассажира // Вынесено решение по иску к авиакомпании S7" (in Russian). Kommersant. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- Voronov, Konstantin (28 May 2008). "Авиаперевозчика обязали заплатить за теракт // S7 Airlines оказалась в долгу перед погибшими пассажирами" (in Russian). Kommersant. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- Вины "Сибири" в теракте не нашли (in Russian). Kommersant. 8 August 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
|Photos of the crashed Tu-134|
|Photos of the crashed Tu-154|
- S7 Airlines Statement about the bombing
- (Russian) Report. Interstate Aviation Committee.
- (Russian) Выводы Государственной комиссии по установлению причин катастроф воздушных судов ТУ-154 и ТУ-134, произошедших 24.08.2004 – Ministry of Transport
- Investigators probe Russia crashes (CNN).
- Traces of explosives found (CNN).
- 'Terrorist' Bombs Brought Down Russian Planes (Reuters, 30 August 2004).