Overview: Terrorist attacks stemming from instability in the North Caucasus continued to be committed in Russia. Separatism, inter-ethnic rivalry, revenge, banditry, and/or extremist ideology were the primary motivating factors for terrorism-related violence. Violence originating in the North Caucasus occasionally spilled into other areas of Russia, as seen most notably in 2011 with the bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January, for which the Caucasus Emirate's leader, Doku Umarov, claimed responsibility.

Within the framework of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC), the Counterterrorism Working Group advanced bilateral cooperation on current terrorist threats; transportation security issues, including aviation security; countering violent extremism; information sharing; and coordination on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In September, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov participated in the launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), co-chaired by the United States and Turkey. The BPC Military Cooperation Working Group co-chairs met in Saint Petersburg, Russia in May, where they signed a new memorandum of understanding on counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. Department of Defense and Russian Ministry of Defense. Several of this working group's military exercises also reflected a focus on counterterrorism cooperation.

Russia continued to participate in the Four-Party Counterterrorism Working Group (Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency). Additionally, limited operational and intelligence information on terrorism-related threats was shared among these four agencies during the year. In November, the director of the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center visited Moscow. Investigative cooperation between Russia's Federal Security Service and the FBI improved moderately over the past year.

2011 Terrorist Incidents: The most significant attack occurred on January 24, when a suicide bomber detonated a device inside the international arrivals area of Moscow's Domodedovo airport, killing 37 civilians and wounding 148 others. Also notable were the February attacks on a ski resort near Mt. Elbrus in Khabardino-Balkaria where, over the course of several days, terrorists assaulted a tour bus, bombed a gondola, and assassinated a town official, killing five civilians and injuring eight. Other terrorist attacks occurred in the North Caucasus Federal District, primarily in the republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and Chechnya.

On June 18, General Aleksandr Bortnikov, Director of the Federal Security Service, reported to the president that his service had averted a "major terror act" in the Moscow region in the preceding days. In a highly-publicized meeting with the Kremlin leader, Bortnikov said the suspects had planned to target "crowded facilities and transport infrastructure" and that security officers had confiscated homemade bombs, other weapons, and a map with an attack plan. The Russian government did not provide any additional information about these planned attacks.

With the exception of the Domodedovo airport attack, most terrorist incidents occurred in the Caucasus region and specifically targeted security services personnel.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: The National Antiterrorism Coordinating Committee, organized in 2006, is the main government body coordinating the Russian government's response to the terrorist threat. Terrorism-related legislation introduced in 2011 includes:

  • May 3, Establishment of Terrorist Threat Levels (Federal Law 96-FZ): This law directs ministries to share a common terrorist threat-level system.

  • June 30, Federal Law on Amendments to Articles 73 and 81 of the Criminal Executive Code of the Russian Federation (Federal Law 159-FZ): This adds the following to the list of terrorist crimes specified in the federal codex: participation in armed formations previously not envisaged by federal law, the organization of extremist community, and organization of extremist activities.

In 2010 the Russian Federation introduced biometric passports with strong security features. The latest version of the Russian passport is valid for ten years. Since most newly issued Russian passports, including official and diplomatic passports, are biometric, this more secure document is carried by an increasing proportion of Russian travelers, although many people still choose the less expensive, less secure document. Among Russian applicants for American visas in 2011, the majority used the new biometric passport.

Russia began implementing a major program to introduce paperless entrance and clearance systems for cargo. This system, currently operational in one port of entry (Kashirsky), implements automated risk management and cargo selectivity procedures. The Russian Federation is expanding this system nationally.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Russia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It is also a member of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism and a leading member, chair, and primary funding source of the Eurasian Group on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism (EAG), both FATF-style regional bodies. Through the EAG, Russia provides technical assistance and funding to improve legislative and regulatory frameworks and operational capabilities.

Russian banks must report suspicious transactions to the Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring), a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) whose head reports directly to the Prime Minister. The Central Bank and the markets regulator (the Financial Markets Federal Service) can access these transaction reports after requesting them from Rosfinmonitoring, which is a member of the Egmont Group of FIUs.

On November 10, President Medvedev signed into law a federal bill, "On changes to the Federal Law, 'On countering the legalization (laundering) of proceeds obtained illegally, and terrorism financing,' and the Russian Federation Code of Administrative Offenses." The new rules and requirements aim to enable authorized bodies, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies to work more efficiently in countering corruption and terrorism financing. The law specifies internal audit procedures for organizations performing monetary transactions and enumerates their responsibilities to provide information to responsible government agencies.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Russia is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and is an active member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-Russia Council Counterterrorism Working Group. Together with NATO allies Norway, Turkey, and Poland, Russia participates in the NATO-Russia Council Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI), sharing airplane track data regarding civilian aircraft of concern (e.g., hijacked or otherwise suspicious aircraft) transiting sensitive border airspace. CAI provides a framework for coordinating cross-border military responses to identified potential threats, and for conducting exercises to test response coordination. In June, Poland, Turkey, and Russia participated in CAI Vigilant Skies exercises, the first time that Russian jets have participated with NATO counterparts in a live exercise.

Russia worked with other regional and multilateral groups to address terrorism, including the European Union, the Cooperation Council for Arab States of the Gulf, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Russia continued its cooperation with the United States as Co-Chair of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). Working closely with the United States and the GICNT's Spanish Implementation and Assessment Group Coordinator, Russia continues to help lead the 82-nation partnership in conducting multilateral activities and developing best practices in nuclear detection, nuclear forensics, and other areas to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Russian government continued to develop constructive relations with established moderate Islamic organizations. Starting in November 2011, as part of the latest Four-Party Counterterrorism Working Group, Russia's Federal Security Service and the FBI began the first of ongoing dialogues to discuss and exchange best practices for countering domestic radicalization and violent extremism; particularly as those issues pertain to ultra-nationalists and white supremacist movements such as the Skinheads and Neo-Nazis.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.