Center for Countering Disinformation pushes back against Russian allegations of involvement in mass shooting

The car allegedly driven by the suspects in the Crocus City Hall shooting, according to Russian security forces, in the Bryansk Oblast
The car allegedly driven by the suspects in the Crocus City Hall shooting, according to Russian security forces, in the Bryansk Oblast

Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation (CCD) denies any Ukrainian involvement in the mass shooting in Moscow on March 22 that claimed the lives of at least 115 people, CCD head Andriy Kovalenko said on Telegram on March 22.

Read also: 60 dead, over 100 injured in mass shooting near Moscow — updated

Kovalenko noted that Russian propaganda outlets have begun publishing videos of 11 people detained on suspicion of involvement with the mass shooting, one of whom says he committed the attack after receiving a payment of $5,400 from a "preacher's assistant.” Russian media has connected this alleged “payment” to Ukraine, claiming that Ukraine had “opened a window” for the attackers to flee Russia.

"The suspects were driving a car whose photo was spread all over the media and which was wanted by all Russian security forces,” Kovalenko said.

Read also: FSB alleges Ukraine connection in Moscow mass shooting following arrest of 11 suspects

“And the border with Ukraine is exactly the place where a lot of military personnel are concentrated and which Russia is trying to carefully guard. There are also mined areas there, shellings continue from both sides, and it is scouted by drones 24/7.”

Kovalenko called the Russian claims a "very doubtful and primitive story" made up by Russian special services, adding that the involvement of Russian special services in the attack cannot be ruled out.

Ukrainian intelligence has also alleged that the shooting was a "pre-prepared provocation by the Kremlin's special services."

Earlier, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry categorically rejected Russian accusations of Ukrainian involvement in the shooting.

March 22 mass shooting in Moscow

On evening of March 22, several people in camouflage opened fire with assault rifles at people who had come to see the band Picnic play at the Crocus City Hall concert hall in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast. According to eyewitnesses, the shooters also threw a Molotov cocktail, and a fire broke out.

Read also: 115 now confirmed killed in mass shooting in Moscow

All tickets to the concert were sold out, and according to media reports, up to 7,200 people could have been in the building. At time of publication, the death toll stands at at least 115 people.

On March 8, the U.S. Embassy warned its citizens in Russia about the threat of a terrorist attack in Moscow. American diplomats stated that the attack could be carried out in crowded places, such as a concert.

Putin is said to have reportedly denied the U.S. warning, instead blaming the "West" for attempting to "intimidate" Russia.

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