Vladimir Putin: I shall not discuss what is going on surrounding the terrorist attack in Moscow. I want to know your opinions and what you have to suggest how to get out of the crisis.
Ravil Gainutdin: Mr President, we want to start by saying that the Council of Muftis of Russia and the Muslim Coordinating Centre for the North Caucasus are denouncing the terrorist attack of last night, which is still going on now. We have issued a statement denouncing the attack, and we say that Islam has no justification for any kind of terrorism or extremism. The blame for bloodshed, if blood is shed, will lie entirely on those who have taken innocent people hostage. When a Muslim kills an innocent, Islam regards his crime as the murder against the entire human race. The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, said that a Muslim shall not shed blood nor seize another’s property. This is forbidden. Hell awaits he who premeditatedly kills an innocent. We Muslims of the Russian Federation think that the terrorists must urgently release all hostages and lay down their arms. They must enter negotiations to prevent bloodshed. Otherwise, they will face the judgment of our community, and a more awesome judgment—that of the Almighty.
We Muslims are ready to render whatever assistance to you, our Government and to all people of goodwill who are ready to open negotiations today and be taken hostage—do anything for the terrorists to release their present hostages.
Magomed Albogachiyev: Mufti Ravil Gainutdin told the truth. I want to speak about the Chechen connection. I have been talking to many Chechens in Moscow. They spent a sleepless night. Everybody did, I think. It would be preposterous to identify such militants with the Chechen people. No Chechen approves of the attack—neither ordinary people nor religious people nor elders. I know this from my talks to them. The capture of innocent women and children cannot settle anything. This is clear. The captors would be wise to release their innocent captives. This matters most. Truly, the outrage has no bearing whatsoever on Islam or on our folk traditions. All who represent our people say so, I swear. You and the Russian Government have our support in everything. We, religious activists and all of us, shall do our utmost for the crisis to be settled with no casualties. To rescue the hostages matters most.
Vladimir Putin: As I see it, to instigate inter-religious and interethnic strife, to drive a wedge between believers of different faiths, between the peoples of Russia is one of the terrorists’ goals. I thank you for your civic stance, and I expect those who oppose terrorists to enjoy moral support.
Ravil Gainutdin: Mr President, we remember your statement that criminals have neither ethnicity nor religion. This is why we think that to contrast religions with each other is not the thing to do now. Religions are not guilty of this tragedy. All Russians, I think, understand that neither religious organisations nor believers of different ethnicities are to blame for someone taking the road of terrorism and crime. Today, the entire Russian community, all people irrespective of religion and culture must rally against international terrorism, fight this evil and promote goodness and tolerance.
Vladimir Putin: I agree with this, and I agree with what you said about international terrorism because I regard the tragedy as a link in the chain of recent terrorist attacks in the whole world—in Indonesia and other countries. I do not for a moment doubt that the same people plotted the Moscow terrorist attack in the same centres.