Russian intelligence foiled a terror attack on this week’s massive Victory Day memorial march in Moscow, a top Russian diplomat has said.
Around a million people marched through central Moscow on Wednesday in the annual Immortal Regiment rally, carrying pictures of family members killed during the Second World War.
President Vladimir Putin and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the march on May 9, the day when Russia marks the end of the war.
Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said in an interview with the Tass news agency that several terror groups in western Siberia had stockpiled weapons for the attack. Twenty people have been detained and 17 homes were searched as part of the investigation, he said.
The announcement came as Russia prepares to host the World Cup next month.
Russia’s top intelligence agency last month reported the arrests of men suspected to have links to the Islamic State group in Siberia and the Moscow region.
The FSB agency said four members of the suspected IS “sleeper cell” were detained in the Moscow region after they travelled from Novy Urengoi, an oil town in western Siberia. The FSB said they plotted attacks in Moscow and were receiving orders from IS members in Syria via a messaging app.
Oil and gas-rich western Siberia has for decades attracted workers from all over Russia, including the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus.
Russia has been providing air cover for Syrian President Bashar Assad since 2015, while thousands of its own citizens went to Syria to join IS in fighting against Assad’s government.