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Terrorist Acts in Moscow: Experience and Lessons in Eliminating Their Consequences

Aleksandr Yu. Kudrin

Main Administration for the City of Moscow of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations; Center for Monitoring and Forecasting of Emergency Situations


Moscow is the capital of the Russian state and the spiritual center of the Russian land. It is the center of the scientific and cultural life of the country, with a significant portion of the national wealth concentrated within its territory. It is a unique historical and architectural monument of world culture. It represents the largest concentration of financial and information flows and has a substantial influence on the development of the state. It is Russia’s largest industrial city, making a significant contribution to the country’s overall economic indicators. Moscow has the country’s most developed energy and public utility networks. Our city is the country’s most important transportation hub, on which the functioning of the entire Russian transportation system depends.

Furthermore, unique tall buildings are being constructed and put into service in the city, and new metro stations are being built along with underground shopping and entertainment centers, tunnels, and parking garages. Thousands of industrial enterprises are located in the city. Disruption of their normal operations, and especially terrorist acts and accidents at their facilities, could present a significant danger to every resident.

Despite the measures being undertaken, Muscovites have been confronted with inhumane and antihuman manifestations of terrorism in recent years. Therefore, we understand and share the pain and suffering of other peoples that have suffered from extreme situations of any nature. We recall the seizure of hostages during the theatrical show Nord-Ost, as well as the bombings at the shopping center in Manezh Square; in the underground pedestrian passage at the Pushkinskaya Metro Station; outside the National Hotel and the Rizhskaya Metro Station; during the concert at the Tushino Airfield; and in a metro train car in the



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Terrorist Acts in Moscow: Experience and Lessons in Eliminating Their Consequences Aleksandr Yu. Kudrin Main Administration for the City of Moscow of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations; Center for Monitoring and Forecasting of Emergency Situations Moscow is the capital of the Russian state and the spiritual center of the Russian land. It is the center of the scientific and cultural life of the country, with a significant portion of the national wealth concentrated within its territory. It is a unique historical and architectural monument of world culture. It represents the largest concentration of financial and information flows and has a substantial influence on the development of the state. It is Russia’s largest industrial city, making a significant contribution to the country’s overall economic indicators. Moscow has the country’s most developed energy and public utility networks. Our city is the country’s most important transportation hub, on which the func- tioning of the entire Russian transportation system depends. Furthermore, unique tall buildings are being constructed and put into service in the city, and new metro stations are being built along with underground shop- ping and entertainment centers, tunnels, and parking garages. Thousands of in- dustrial enterprises are located in the city. Disruption of their normal operations, and especially terrorist acts and accidents at their facilities, could present a sig- nificant danger to every resident. Despite the measures being undertaken, Muscovites have been confronted with inhumane and antihuman manifestations of terrorism in recent years. There- fore, we understand and share the pain and suffering of other peoples that have suffered from extreme situations of any nature. We recall the seizure of hostages during the theatrical show Nord-Ost, as well as the bombings at the shopping center in Manezh Square; in the underground pedestrian passage at the Pushkinskaya Metro Station; outside the National Hotel and the Rizhskaya Metro Station; during the concert at the Tushino Airfield; and in a metro train car in the 21

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21 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM Paveletskaya Station, all of which resulted in more than 3,000 victims, about 700 of whom were killed. These events demonstrated that terrorist acts are increasingly moving from the realm of potential threats into that of actual extreme situations. In our opin- ion it was the lack of the appropriate reaction from the world community to the fall 1999 terrorist acts in Moscow that led to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in the United States, events that once again showed that terrorism has no nationality, that it is international in nature, and that no state is insured against it. RESPONSE AND ELIMINATION OF CONSEQUENCES In addition, accidents at facilities that use dangerous chemical substances in their production processes represent another serious potential danger for the city. Indeed, accidents at such facilities could lead to the chemical contamination of large sections of the city. For example, on April 26, 2004, an accident involving the release of ammo- nia into the atmosphere occurred at one of the city’s dangerous facilities. Subse- quently analyzing the causes of the accident, one may conclude that it occurred due to the most egregious violations of the rules of technological safety. In the interests of obtaining the greatest possible profits, the management of the enter- prise neglected to carry out mandated work and maintenance on systems and utility lines at the facility. An explosion resulted, and the production facilities were destroyed. Only the wise actions of the city’s response services and favor- able meteorological conditions prevented the contamination cloud from spread- ing over neighboring enterprises and residential blocks. In contrast, our greatest efforts were required to eliminate the consequences of the bombings of the apartment buildings on Guryanov Street (September 9, 1999) and Kashirskoe Shosse (September 13, 1999) and to extinguish the fire in the Ostankino television tower (August 27, 2000). Using these examples, I would like to explain the organization of the system of efforts to eliminate the consequences of extreme situations. From the moment that the first search-and-rescue units and fire crews ar- rived on the scene, the Main Operational Headquarters for Eliminating the Con- sequences of Emergency Situations in the City of Moscow deployed its person- nel and organized cooperation with the local authorities, the Moscow City Commission on Eliminating the Consequences of Emergency Situations, the city emergency services, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, and other federal agencies. Thus, a two-level management system has been organized and has proven its effectiveness. Fire crews and search-and-rescue units from the Moscow Main Administra- tion for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations, personnel and resources from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the city emergency services were directly deployed for rescue operations. This created a group including a

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21 COUNTERING URBAN TERRORISM total of more than 1,000 persons and 200 pieces of equipment. Efforts were organized in shifts. In extinguishing the fire at the Ostankino television tower, we encountered the need to apply new tactics in conducting rescue operations. When the fire broke out on the fifth floor of the television transmitter section (400 meters aboveground) of the television tower (which has a total height of 540 meters), preliminary information indicated that the fire occurred as a result of a short circuit in vertical cable lines in a room housing receiving-transmitting feeder devices. Based on the results of an analysis conducted by investigators, tactics were worked out and the optimal personnel and equipment were selected to carry out search-and-rescue operations and extinguish the fire at the focus of this emergency situation. The following objectives were established: • cutting cables • covering the interiors of the cable shafts with sheets of damp asbestos to prevent the fire from spreading • organizing a search for the elevator on which the cables had been severed within the tower • ensuring security for personnel and removing some of them to a zone at a safe distance • involving specialists from the Moscow City Trust for Geologic, Geode- sic, and Cartographic Work to maintain constant watch over any deviations of the tower from the vertical axis RESCUE EFFORTS The experience gained in eliminating the consequences of these emergency situations has shown that the most serious attention must be devoted to matters regarding the management and comprehensive execution of rescue efforts. In conducting these efforts, the personnel involved were provided with con- tinuous, 24-hour meal service at two mobile food distribution points and one cafeteria. During the emergency situation, about 30,000 hot meals and cold sand- wich meals were served. A system was also established for refueling all equipment and vehicles in- volved. More than 7.5 metric tons of fuel, oil, and lubricants were used. The emergency response group was also provided with the necessary expendable supplies and tools. The personnel involved in the emergency situation were able to warm them- selves in special inflatable modules and buses. Heavy equipment, including cranes, loaders, and dump trucks to remove structural debris, was put into action from the very first hours of the emergency situation. This equipment arrived from facilities located around the city of Mos- cow. Experience amassed in cleanup efforts after building demolitions has shown

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218 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM that in such major emergency situations it is most expedient and efficient to use heavy cranes with a load capacity of 50 metric tons and a 20–40 meter swing- away jib. Cranes with a load capacity of up to 300 metric tons were subsequently used to bring down structures in danger of collapse. Medical support was organized in accordance with the action plan of the Moscow City Center for Urgent Medical Care in Emergency Situations. Victims were sent to 13 different treatment facilities in the city. Ambulance brigades were put in place around the perimeter of the emer- gency zone to provide medical care on site and take the injured to city hospitals. The entire effort involved 80 ambulance brigades and 3 brigades for the trans- portation of the dead (the bodies were delivered to official morgues on orders from a representative of the city Medical Examiner’s Office). A group of psychologists was organized to work in hospitals and clinics and a hotline was established for relatives of the victims. Because operations went on 24 hours a day, we had to resolve questions regarding how to illuminate the work area during the hours of darkness. During the first hours (which occurred at night), the area in which rescue efforts were being carried out was lit by individual lighting devices belonging to the search- and-rescue units of the Moscow Main Administration for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations. Lighting was subsequently organized by a special unit of the Moscow city government, which set up powerful lighting equipment. The efforts organized and undertaken made it possible to ensure that there was suffi- cient light in the areas where work was under way. Experience shows that success in carrying out rescue efforts largely depends on how the efforts are organized in the initial hours. The primary organizational task in this regard is determining the most important areas in which to focus the work, the number of people and pieces of equipment needed at the given stage, and their placement around the site. It is also important to register personnel and equipment upon their arrival and establish a shift schedule for people and equip- ment over the course of the operation. SECURITY AND PREVENTION It must be noted that ensuring security against emergency situations and terrorist acts is a complex and multifaceted problem, and its successful solution may be achieved only through the active participation of all city structures, fed- eral ministries, and agencies. Therefore, an effective emergency prevention and response system has been in operation in the city since 1996. Its operations are led by the mayor of Mos- cow through the City Government Commission on Emergency Situations and Fire Safety, which coordinates the activities of all services. The Main Adminis- tration for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations is the operating arm of the commission.

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21 COUNTERING URBAN TERRORISM Since the system was created we have done a certain amount of work aimed at ensuring the security of the capital’s residents and territory. This work in- cludes the creation of a regulatory and legal base that relies on international and federal experience. The Law on Protecting the Population and Territory of the City of Moscow from Natural and Non-Natural Emergency Situations and the Concept for the Security of Moscow have both been ratified. These documents defined the system of views of the city’s leadership for ensuring the security of its residents. In the process of developing them, several programs were worked out, including Moscow’s Radiation Security, Moscow’s Chemical Security, Moscow’s Fire Security, the Program for the Development of the Moscow City System for Emergency Prevention and Response, and the Program for the Con- struction of Rescue and Treatment Complexes on the Water. At present, more than 100 regulations and legal acts govern the activities of executive branch agencies, local government entities, and the city’s organizations and institutions with regard to protecting the population against emergency situations. These documents have laid the foundation for resolving problems associated with re- ducing the risk of various types of emergency situations. Regarding the construction and renovation of structures, primary attention is focused on the implementation of modern technical means of ensuring safety. Work is being done at facilities that use dangerous chemical substances to equip them with automated emergency emissions control systems capable of detecting the onset of an emergency at its early stages and providing a solution to deal with the situation without any human involvement. At the city level, a light detection and ranging-based automated system for remote monitoring of the condition of the city’s air basin has been created and is currently functioning and being further developed. This system makes it possible to automatically detect the initiation of a crisis situation (fire, explosion with release of poisonous substances, contamination of the atmosphere by vehicles and industrial enterprises, and so forth), monitor its development in real time, and predict its effect on neighboring areas. City government agencies are devoting special attention to ensuring the security of residents in areas where large numbers of people gather and in the city’s underground spaces, especially on the metro and in tunnels. Given that a large quantity of special cargo (gasoline, reagents for refrigera- tion units, and so forth) is transported through Moscow, as in other cities through- out the world, we have instituted stricter controls over their shipment via truck and rail within the city limits. Furthermore, we have begun creating comprehen- sive vehicle inspection stations at entry points to the city, with their tasks being as follows: • checking vehicles for contamination with hazardous substances • decontaminating vehicles contaminated with hazardous substances • monitoring the environment

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220 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM However, practice shows that even with the most perfect monitoring sys- tems, it is impossible to fully rule out the possibility of accidents and guarantee the safe operation of a particular facility. Therefore, in order to reduce the degree of risk, in addition to measures aimed at preventing accidents, we must consider a range of measures to reduce the risk that they will occur. Technical and organi- zational measures should be taken into account. For example, after the tragic bombing in the underground walkway at the Pushkinskaya Metro Station, we discovered that 80 percent of the victims were injured by flying building fragments or pieces of glass. With this in mind, as part of international cooperation efforts, the Moscow city government is purchasing a unique protective coating for glass that prevents it from breaking. This coating is being installed in areas where large numbers of people gather. The creation, training, and development of emergency personnel hold an important place in the operation of the system. With the support of the Russian Ministry of Emer- gency Situations, the city has created a modern rescue service, which it main- tains at its own expense. About 14,000 firefighters, rescue personnel, and other specialists of the Main Administration for Civil Defense and Emergency Situa- tions are working to ensure the security of Muscovites as they go about their daily affairs. Each day, about 1,700 people report for 24-hour duty shifts, of whom more than 1,500 are firefighters, rescue workers, and support specialists. Current world experience in resolving the problem of preventing and re- sponding to emergency situations in large cities indicates that achieving an opti- mal result is impossible without the use of aviation technologies. Therefore, the city has created its own aviation structure, which in times of heavy traffic con- gestion on the main roads will make it possible to deliver rescuers to the emer- gency zone in a timely fashion and evacuate the injured to the city’s health care facilities. In conclusion, I would like to say that in eliminating the consequences of emergency situations we have gained bitter but nevertheless practical experience in working under extreme conditions. The Moscow city government is devoting a great deal of attention to issues regarding the prevention of emergency situa- tions and the creation of a security system. We are prepared to share this experi- ence and render the necessary assistance in this regard.