Suspects in Moscow concert hall attack renewed visas in Turkey prior to attack

ANKARA — Two of the men accused of orchestrating the deadly assault on Moscow’s Crocus City concert hall on 22 March traveled to Turkey in February to renew their visa-free stay in Russia, as disclosed by Turkish authorities.

Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda and Shamsidin Fariduni, both nationals of Tajikistan, resorted to Turkey to extend their stay in Russia after their 90-day visa-free entitlement had expired, according to Turkish officials.

Their journey to Turkey, just a month before the attack, shed light on a potentially crucial aspect of their movements and intentions. According to the Turkish official, both men chose Turkey due to its proximity to Russia and the absence of alerts against them, allowing them to freely move between the two countries.

“We believe that these individuals were radicalized in Russia, as the brief duration of their stay is insufficient for such a process of radicalization,” emphasized the Turkish official.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack on the concert hall, which resulted in the loss of at least 139 lives and the setting ablaze of the venue. Affiliated media outlets disseminated footage of the attack.

The suspects, when presented in a Moscow court on Sunday, bore visible signs of severe injuries. Rachabalizoda appeared with gauze over his ear, allegedly following a gruesome act captured in a circulating video. Similarly, footage associated with the Wagner Group purportedly depicted Fariduni undergoing torture.