Chechnya declares mourning for victims to Victory Day blast

Chechnya has declared a 3-day mourning for the victims to the Victory Day explosion.

The explosion went off at the Dynamo stadium in Grozny. Preliminary reports say the bomb was encased in the central podium at the stadium, which was the venue of Victory Day celebrations.

Nearly all the grandstands of the stadium were crowded. "Victory Day is a holiday that unifies the peoples of Russia, as well as the peoples of the former Soviet republics," President Akhmad Kadyrov said in his Victory Day speech at the crowed stadium. He wished good health to the veterans and peaceful life to all Chechens. The explosion went off during the concert, which followed the president's speech.

A total of 63 people suffered in the explosion, 6 of whom were killed, among them President Kadyrov, Chechen State Council chief Khusein Isayev, Reuters correspondent Adlan Khasanov, two of the president's bodyguards and a 8-year-old girl.

Colonel General Valery Baranov, in command of the Joint Group of Federal Forces in the North Caucasus, was seriously injured. Chechnya's Military Commandant Grigory Fomenko also received injuries.

Fifteen persons are undergoing treatment in hospitals, Vladimir Yakovlev, the Russian president's envoy, reported referring to the Centre of Medicine of Catastrophes.

The majority of the victims have left hospitals and will continue receiving outpatient treatment, Mr Yakovlev said in Grozny.

Mr Yakovlev said General Baranov had regained conscience and talked to his relations. The general's leg was amputated.

Musa Akhmadov, Chechnya's Healthcare Minister, described General Baranov's condition as steadily grave. Mr Akhmadov said the general had been taken to a hospital in Mozdok (in North Ossetia, which neighbours Chechnya). He will be transferred to a hospital in Rostov-on-Don (regional centre in southern Russia) later if his condition does not deteriorate.

There are five children among the injured. Two of them are in a serious condition, said Mr Akhmadov.

Chechen Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudayev has said in a RIA Novosti interview on the telephone that authorities are drawing up lists of those who suffered in the blast with the aim of providing financial aid to them and their families. He said 6 persons were killed and 53 injured in the blast. However, these are preliminary figures. "Relatives might have taken some of the injured away from the stadium right after the explosion," explained Mr Dudayev. Commandant' offices, police and hospitals are specifying the exact number of victims, according to Mr Dudayev.

"We need 2-3 days to take a series of organisational measures," said Mr Dudayev.

Mr Dudayev emphasised that the situation in the republic would not aggravate after the president's death.

Several thousand people came to pay the last tribute to the president on Monday. The mourning ceremony took place at the cemetery in Tsentoroi, Akhmad Kadyrov's home village.

The ceremony involved several thousand people, including Chechen Premier Sergei Abramov, who is now acting President of Chechnya, and the governors of some of the regions in the North Caucasus and southern Russia. Muslim leaders from Chechnya and neighbouring regions also attended the ceremony.

The mourning ceremonies also took place in Itum Kale, in southern Chechnya, where Khusein Isayev was burried. According to the tradition, the mourning ceremonies will last 3 days.

Vladimir Yakovlev assured that peace processes would not stall in Chechnya. "Control over compensation payments for the lost housing will be toughened," Mr Yakovlev said at a meeting with Chechnya's culture and education officials. The efforts to restore roads and clear central Grozny of mines will be carried on, promised Mr Yakovlev. Besides, land plots will be prepared for the construction of new housing, issues related to the development of Chechnya's railroad transport are being discussed, according to Mr Yakovlev.

The Chechen public expressed support for the course, which was pursued by the deceased president.

Among other things, President Kadyrov supported the restoration of schools and promoted school Olympiads in Chechnya. Education and culture officials said they were willing to join their efforts to carry on the president's course.

Chechen Mufti Akhmed Shamayev said at Mr Yakovlev's meeting with the Council of Muftis that they were prepared to contribute to the line pursued by the deceased president, and the Council was preparing an appeal to the Chechens. "We lost the spiritual leader, not merely a president, but we will not scatter," emphasised the mufti.

Mr Yakovlev, for his part, said that unification sentiments were strong in Chechnya. He added that deterring a new mess was a must. Mr Yakovlev said Chechen district officials must "feel responsibility for those in power." Compensations to the families of those killed and injured in the May 9 terrorist blast will be determined on Monday, according to Mr Yakovlev.

Chechen acting President Sergei Abramov said he had appointed Ramzan Kadyrov, the killed president's son, First Deputy Prime Minister. Taus Jabrailov, who took the position of National Policy Minister, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

Sergei Fridinsky, Russia's Deputy Prosecutor General, does not rule out that the Grozny terrorist attack was staged by someone with access to the stadium. "Investigators will, above all, focus on those who ensured security at the stadium," Mr Fridinsky told reporters on Monday.

Outsiders could hardly enter the stadium. An outsider could not enter the stadium and detonate the bomb, according to Mr Fridinsky.

The explosive device was a converted artillery shell. The other shell did not go off, said Mr Fridinsky.

The bomb was, apparently, detonated by wiring, according to Mr Fridinsky. He, however, said experts were yet to make a final conclusion.

The Times wrote that the assassination of President Kadyrov had been conducted in the manner typical of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

The newspaper wrote that the assassination of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov and the injury of the Russian commander resembled operations conducted by Al-Qaeda. The paper recalled the Russian president's statements to the effect that Chechen militants had been supported by Islamic radicals abroad. Moscow has recently provided evidence that some of the Chechen warlords acted in cooperation with Al-Qaeda.

According to The Times, Washington has attributed Chechen separatists to the Islamic anti-Western terrorist movement.

The Times emphasised that the terror attack had been staged on Victory Day, one of the most revered holidays in Russia, when the country commemorated millions of Russians who perished fighting against nazi Germany.

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