President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: An act of sabotage took place yesterday at the Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant in Kabardino-Balkaria. People were killed, and this alone is a tragedy. We need to do everything necessary now to arrange compensation for the victims’ families, but the top priority right now, aside from settling these matters, is to analyse what happened.
What happened is completely unacceptable. I want to hear from you on what actually took place, how security was organized at the power plant, how the saboteurs managed to carry out this attack, what kind of damage the station’s machinery has suffered, when the station will be ready to resume energy generation, and, most important of all, what lessons we can learn from this incident.
It is good that we have backup options and were able to switch the energy system over to other power stations, but what if we had not had such possibilities? We already had enough problems last year [with the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Power Plant]. We need to thorough examine everything that took place and draw some serious conclusions.
[Deputy Prime Minister] Mr Sechin, you have just returned from the republic. The republic’s head is here today. This is a very serious event, even though it has not disrupted energy supplies and has not affected the republic’s basic economic life, but it is nonetheless very serious.
All the necessary conclusions must be drawn, at RusHydro, which is responsible for the station, and at the agencies that are responsible for security – the Interior Ministry and the other agencies responsible for this work. So, let’s begin the meeting.
I give the floor to Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov for an update on the operations.
Director of Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov: Mr President,
As we reported to you earlier, at around five in the morning a group of gunmen attacked the Baksan Hydroelectric Power Plant, shot two security guards and gained entry to the station’s territory. They used physical force against the personnel in the turbine room and set explosive devices under all generators. Several of these devices went off, destroying two of the generators. The third generator, fortunately, was spared because the bomb did not go off.
This undetonated bomb was neutralised by bomb-disposal specialists, who arrived at the scene. Examination of the bomb and the site enabled us to reconstruct a picture of events and make some conclusions regarding the identity of the armed group – one of the bandit groups operating in the Baksan district.
We have an idea of who was involved in the attack and are currently carrying out an active search. We are working together with the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office’s Investigative Committee. A criminal case has been opened and the search is underway for the attackers.
Our preliminary assessment of the situation suggests that these events were able to take place as a result of what I firmly believe was an inadequate level of security at the site, which has led to people’s deaths and damage to the station.
Following numerous instructions on tightening security at critical sites, the relevant organisations within the Federal Operations Headquarters and the National Anti-Terrorist Committee took control measures. The order has been sent out now to check compliance with the decisions that were taken, make the necessary adjustments to security regulations and procedures at these sites, and take any necessary measures against those who fail to carry out the instructions.
We drafted and sent out to the regions an instruction on tightening security at important and hazardous installations in the North Caucasus Federal District. We are working in direct contact with all of the local law enforcement agencies and republic’s administration.
I stress the point that an active search is underway for the perpetrators of this crime.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good. Mr Nurgaliyev, your personnel were killed in this attack. What happened, and why did it happen?
Minister of THE INTERIOR RASHID NURGALIYEV: Mr President, to be frank, the first attack, carried out in the night, was the explosion at the Baksan district police headquarters. This left the building seriously damaged and gave the attackers the hope that the police would not pursue them in the dark. They carried this out to divert attention from the attack on their second target — the Baksan power plant itself.
An analysis of the evidence, and what we saw, shows that the two security guards were asleep at the time. One was asleep in his own car, and the other was asleep at his post. The site was not equipped with video surveillance system, and then we have the fact that the two guards were asleep, and so the attackers shot the sleeping guards, entered the territory, and blew up two of the plant’s generators.
Lieutenant General Savichev, head of the department responsible for protecting state property, flew to the site immediately and is now investigating the situation. The decision has already been taken to fire the head of private security in Kabardino-Balkaria. An 80-man strong operations group has been sent to the Baksan district now to help in organising the search operations.
Conclusions will also be made regarding compliance with the instructions on organizing round-the-clock security at this specific site. There are enough sites of this kind in the republic. A commission has been given three days to investigate the situation, compile additional safety data sheet (SDS), and tighten security in general.
What makes this situation worse is the audacious nature of this attack. A national youth gathering, Caucasus-2020, is underway in the region at the moment, and we have beefed up security at the event.
This is not the first such incident. On May 1, when a horse-racing event was underway in Kabardino-Balkaria, attackers managed to plant a bomb after all the security checks were made, and the resulting explosion killed one person and injured others.
Mr President, we are drawing the necessary conclusions and will toughen measures to put things in order, including by making the necessary personnel changes in the republic’s Interior Ministry.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good, but these have to be decisions with real impact, and not just a case of firing pensioners.
Above all, this work has to be systematic. Of course we will restore everything to order at the Baksan power plant. This we can do. But what about the situation at other hydro power plants, and not just in Kabardino-Balkaria?
Kabardino-Balkaria is just one of the North Caucasus republics, after all. Sadly, we have terrorists and bandits in other places too, and so we need to make some serious conclusions about what has happened.
We are not dealing this time with a natural disaster, such as happened last year, although that caused very serious damage and killed a large number of people. But what we are dealing with now is a deliberate criminal act, and also a case of blatant criminal negligence.
We need therefore to carry out a thorough investigation, as you are doing now, and get the security and investigations agencies involved in this. We need to answer the question of how this was able to happen, why it happened at this particular power plant, and what kind of security is in place in general at such sites, especially given that we have been conducting counterterrorist operations and operations to hunt down bandits in a number of districts.
Mr Sechin, you have just come back from Kabardino-Balkaria, where you went to the site together with the republic’s president. I would like to hear from you about the situation there, and the main reasons for what happened there as you see them. What law enforcement measures should we take, and also, what should the company be doing, given that it bears just as much responsibility in this situation as the Interior Ministry?
Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin: As instructed, I went to Kabardino-Balkaria and, together with the republic’s president, visited the plant and held a meeting with the companies responsible for energy supplies in the region. Representatives of federal agencies, including the Interior Ministry, FSB, Energy Ministry, and Regional Development Ministry also took part in this meeting.
The attack on the plant and the explosions carried out practically destroyed two generators and damaged a third, which actually suffered more damage in the fire that broke out, which had to be put out. Other equipment was damaged too – two oil pressure installations in the generator control system were damaged, and so were two switches on the outdoor switchgear.
This damage completely shut down the outdoor switchgear. Measures to get it temporarily operating again have been taken, and this made it possible to switch over to electricity supplies coming in from other sources, including in the Stavropol Territory.
The damage to the generators will not affect the energy supply in the republic. Work is currently underway to get the outdoor switchgear equipment back on line. The standard communications system –satellite, direct control office, and the local telephone lines — are all up and running again. Preliminary work has already been done to repair the outdoor switchgear, and the necessary equipment has been delivered.
The main task at this stage is to get the switchgear back on line as quickly as possible (we have set a deadline of two weeks maximum), which will enable reliable electricity supplies to come in through other lines and ensure replacement supplies to cover the demand.
All of the companies involved in this work have received additional instructions. We have also acted together with the republic’s government to provide social assistance. I think that Mr [Arsen] Kanokov [President of Kabardino-Balkaria] will report on the specific measures taken.
Acting on the results of the investigations currently underway, we will work together with the Interior Ministry and the FSB to take the necessary steps to ensure adequate anti-terrorist protection at the Baksan power plant and other infrastructure and energy facilities in the region.
We have indeed noted cases of personnel at the Baksan power plant not complying with instructions from the oversight agencies on eliminating violations of security regulations, and a week has been given to present proposals on this situation.
In order to raise the security level at hydro power plants we have decided that all facilities of this kind should be fitted with additional water discharge sluices, and backup diesel-driven generators, in order to avoid the risk of flooding and other threats.
Actually, the personnel at the Baksan power plant acted very professionally in this situation. When the attack happened only the shift on duty were present and they were the ones attacked, but the other personnel came to the station immediately, and we should give credit to these people, who acted swiftly to prevent a real emergency situation from developing at the plant.
The order for new hydroelectric units has already gone out. CEO of Siloviye Mashiny and design bureaux representatives visited the plant today for this purpose. RusHydro will order three new generating units, which will even increase the station’s production capacity a little. In other words, the work will not just repair the damage but involve an overall modernisation of the plant, giving us actually a new facility.
Dmitry Medvedev: When will this work be complete?
Igor Sechin: The Energy Ministry is examining the project right now, and I think we will approve it within the next two days. The overall reconstruction work will require from 18 to 24 months in all.
Dmitry Medvedev: Where will the surrounding regions get their energy supplies from during this time?
Igor Sechin: It is to address this issue that our biggest priority right now is to repair the outdoor switchgear, because it will then make it possible to organise electricity transit from other regions.
All of the companies operating in this sector in the region took part in the meeting, including LUKOIL, INTER RAO UES, FSK EES, and RusHydro. All of the security service heads have been asked to stay at their posts, and they are now giving instructions and working together with the heads of the Interior Ministry’s counterterrorist centre.
The Federal Security Service is also actively involved in this work. Instructions have been given to draft, together with the heads of the other law enforcement and security agencies, standards for ensuring counterterrorist protection, including compulsory installation of video surveillance systems, motion sensors, and special floodlights, and unifying all of these components into local information systems that can transmit data to the local Interior Ministry and FSB offices. This work is underway. The security and law enforcement heads have been given the order not to leave their posts, to stay in the region, and not come to Moscow until this work is complete.
Dmitry Medvedev: Unfortunately, it seems to be standard practice here that none of the security agencies do anything, and none of the companies’ CEOs you named lift a finger until something goes wrong. Rather than just leaving chief security officers in the region, we should make all the heads of these big companies stay there too and take the necessary decisions.
Igor Sechin: Yes, Mr President.
Dmitry Medvedev: We cannot allow such threats to peoples’ lives, and to the energy supplies of entire regions. The bandits found a weak link in the chain and were able to break through. This is the first such incident. Before, they used different tactics. This is a very bad sign.
Mr Sechin, I instruct you to personally coordinate the work not only to repair the damage at the Baksan power plant, which must be done as soon as possible and using every means at our disposal, but also to develop a control system for ensuring security at facilities of this kind. We have addressed similar issues at other facilities. As you will recall, we took measures several years ago to develop security monitoring systems in the transport sector.
These are all very complex sites that are technically difficult to manage. They are very large sites, poorly protected, and often located in remote areas. But this does not mean that security there should consist of two guards taking a rest when they should be on duty, and that there should not be all the necessary surveillance and communications systems and so on.
We need a completely new kind of system developed for all of our hydroelectric stations and for our energy facilities in general, taking into account the specific circumstances of life in the Caucasus at the moment. Perhaps such measures are not needed for now in other parts of the country, and this is fine, but in the Caucasus we do need to have a unified system in place.
I instruct you to develop this system, and work together with the other agencies to get it approved, and report back to me. How much time will you need?
Igor Sechin: I think we could have it ready within a month, Mr President.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good, then you have a month to get this system ready, and meanwhile, the companies and law enforcement officers responsible for security at these sites will have to work under special procedures. The Government Cabinet and you personally must keep control over this situation.
Igor Sechin: Yes.
Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Kanokov, now, regarding the human dimension, people have been killed and injured. What steps are being taken at the official level, and through the commercial sector?
President of Kabardino-Balkaria Arsen Kanokov: Mr President,
This is the first such attack on a facility of this kind, and of course it has come as a great shock for us.
We went to the site immediately. Together with Presidential Envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District Alexander Khloponin and the security and law enforcement heads, we examined the situation and analysed how it was that such an attack could take place in Kabardino-Balkaria. Looking at the statistics, we have in fact seen a big increase – of almost 100–200 percent – in the republic’s crime rate. Since May 1, practically not a single day has gone by without one incident or another in the republic.
Sadly, two people were killed in this attack, and I want to thank the companies, which have decided to pay compensation of one million rubles to each family of those killed and 500,000 rubles to each of those who were injured. The Kabardino-Balkaria authorities will also pay compensation of 300,000 rubles to the families of those killed, and 100,000 rubles to each of those who were injured.
I visited the site and saw how it was guarded. One guard was quite simply asleep in bed, and the other had been asleep in his car at the entrance, where he was shot and placed in the boot.
They had begun installing a security system at the site, and had already closed off the whole perimeter, but they had not yet managed to get the video surveillance equipment installed at the entrance, where a post for the security guards had already been installed on the right hand side.
We are not avoiding any of our responsibility, because we realise that the law enforcement authorities alone are not completely to blame for what is happening. We gathered the Public Chamber and the regional heads together, and of course we need to take a close look at what is taking place, and why it is that bandit groups have begun concentrating in the Baksan district in particular.
Now, together with the district heads and law enforcement officials, we are analysing the situation. We have programmes such as the Safe City programme in Nalchik, and this is working. You saw how this programme is working during your visit to the city.
I think that in cases of escalation such as this in particular districts we need to make a thorough analysis of the local situation and work out why people are attacking particular sites. They have to be getting financing from somewhere. It is surely not the bandits themselves who choose these particular sites.
One of the problems is that we merged two districts but have not yet managed to bring the district police force up to full staff numbers. The district should have a force of 255 people, but at the moment there are only 130 people. We have asked for more personnel in this district in order to be able to… I am not sure what term to use, Mr President, but these bandits have to be eliminated. Every day we have something happening in the republic. Unfortunately, it is hard to work out exactly why this is happening.
Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Kanokov, the reasons are the same as anywhere. If these kinds of things are happening it means that there is no order, and that people are being recruited into terrorist groups and being paid to carry out acts of sabotage and terrorism.
What can I say to you? This is affecting ordinary people’s lives, the lives of those who live and work in Kabardino-Balkaria. You need to meet with the public, meet with the elders in Baksan district to get the local people more involved in protecting these facilities. The local residents need to be as vigilant as possible about what is going on around them. This is not a chance event, but is indeed the work of bandits, and it is clear that these bandits are lurking somewhere in the area, and that someone is giving them shelter.
When terrorist attacks and sabotage of this kind happen it affects people’s living standards. People need to realise that they cannot just wait the situation out. They need to show active civic spirit. I ask you to speak with members of civil society and with the elders, with those who have respect in their community and whose voices will be heeded, and I ask you to be personally active in this work, of course.
The final thing I want to say is that the law enforcement agencies and the economic actors under the Government’s direction must do everything possible to ensure that there is no repeat of this kind of incident. This is a totally unacceptable situation. If this kind of thing happens again, all of the police heads and company directors will be fired.