Read the original text at Die Welt.
It started in Siberia: last Sunday anonymous bomb threats phoned in to authorities of Omsk. A series of such calls have prompted evacuations at schools, shopping malls, theaters, and universities of the city. Hundreds of people were evacuated. From this time, a wave of bomb threats is overwhelming Russia.
Until now, people from 30 cities, from Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast, were evacuated from hundreds of schools, railway stations, shopping centers and institutions, which affected tens of thousands of people. It has touched Moscow woo. Up to 50 thousand people were taken to a safe place on Wednesday after anonymous calls, during which the robot's voice informed of the threat of an explosion.
People were evacuated from Red Square, just in front of Vladimir Putin's work place in the Kremlin. However, mass panic did not embrace the Russian capital. People are accustomed to such events. And bombs were never found.
Now the whole country is wondering who stands behind this - especially since state-run television channels are silent about the threats of the explosions. This gives a place for speculation. Experts suggest that these threatening calls are a hidden state exercise on civil defense in terms of West-2017 exercises, conducted by Russia and Belarus. According to official figures, 12,700 soldiers participate in the drills. Some Western states and NATO proceed from the fact that the true number of participants can be much larger. Minister of Defense of Germany Ursula von der Leyen calls the number of up to 100 thousand soldiers.
There is still no official statement about these threats of explosions - neither from FSB, nor from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations. Why is it so difficult for authorities to conduct an investigation? In some cities, security services sources claimed that these actions are part of the exercise. Assistant to the inspector general of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Oleg Ostrovsky has approved it in an interview with a local newspaper in Perm. "For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been conducting large-scale anti-terrorist exercises," Ostrovsky said. In some short time, this text have disappeared from the website of the newspaper.
Former head of FSB department for counterterrorism Alexander Gusak is also convinced that anonymous bomb threats calls are part of the civil defense exercises. "After the decree of Vladimir Putin, ministries dealing with security issues are checking their readiness for action," Gusak noted in his interview. Former intelligence officer criticized that the exercises were conducted without previous informing of the population. "Head of the FSB and the minister for emergency situations should give explanations," he assumed. If the threats of the explosions were exercises, it would be in line with Vladimir Putin's strategy. In June, he demanded to strengthen civil defense in Russia. "Our defenders of the civilian population must apply new technologies," Putin said.
However, there are speculations about other sources of threats. One security official said in an interview with the RIA Novosti that the terrorist organization ISIS is behind the threats of the explosions. And the day before, Ukraine was also involved.
Last year, threats of explosions were sent by e-mail in a number of Russian cities. Two years ago, Ukrainian hackers blackmailed by phone the threat of explosions of several shopping centers in St. Petersburg. However, these cases are not comparable with the number of calls with threats over the past days.
Currently, we know that these calls were made not from ordinary phones, but from Virtual Voice-IP numbers. Are hackers responsible for these attacks? Russian experts on information technology say that this is very easy to make such a call. "Practically, nothing is needed for that, the necessary software is freely available," said Alexander Krasnikov, head of the technical department of one of the Russian telephone providers.
However, Russian security services would quite easily find the trail of criminals, believes veteran "Alfa" of Russian special forces Igor Shevchuk: "As a rule, such criminals are quickly found."