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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

McDonald's Blast Not Political, Police Say

A grenade attack just steps from McDonald's on Pushkin Square was denounced by police Tuesday as "outrageous hooliganism", but they said that political or terrorist motives were unlikely.


Exploding bits of the RGD-5 army grenade's shrapnel wounded at least eight people Monday night, the police said.


Two heavily inebriated suspects were arrested shortly after 6: 30 P. M. at the scene of the explosion -- just in front of the Precinct No. 108 police station next to McDonald's on Bolshaya Bronnaya Ulitsa.


"We don't find any motive other than outrageous hooliganism", said Nikolai Karaulov, a police inspector investigating the case. "We don't have any data that would suggest that there was a terrorist or other motive".


Frista Kosha, 5, who left Afghanistan three weeks ago with her family to seek refuge from the civil war there, was the most seriously wounded of the victims. Walking along with her aunt and another relative, Kosha was hit in the head by exploding shrapnel.


"In 14 years of civil war in Kabul nothing ever happened to my family, nobody ever threw a bomb at us", said the girl's aunt, Mariam Kosha, who was also wounded and hospitalized. "They should kill the men that did this".


One of the jailed suspects is Valery Zakharenkov, 34, an unemployed leader of a motorcycle gang, according to Yury Fedoseyev, head of Moscow's criminal investigation division. Zakharenkov has been arrested twice previously, for rape and theft, he said.


In custody, Zakharenkov, a former Muscovite now living in Moldova, told police they should do more to protect Russians living in separatist Trans-Dniester area, police said.


The second suspect was identified by Itar-Tass as "a certain Katkov". It quoted Interior Minister Viktor Yerin as saying Katkov, 31, had been convicted three times for hooliganism and illegal arms possession.


One of the two attempted to flee after policemen witnessed the crime, but surrendered after a warning shot was fired into the air, police said.


The incident occurred on a rainy evening in which there was virtually no line in front of the usually overcrowded McDonald's restaurant, preventing the attack from claiming far more victims, witnesses said.


"There weren't many people around the entrance to McDonald's, perhaps 10", said Andrei Buzovkin, who is receiving treatment for wounds at Moscow's Botkin Hospital. A night watchman, Buzovkin, 25, had just gotten something to eat when he heard a crashing noise.


"I saw a grenade that was rolling on the pavement", he said. "I jumped back between two cars, but I was injured anyway".


Small bits of metal tore though Buzovkin's jeans and jacket into his flesh; doctors have told him and other patients that it may be impossible to remove all of the shrapnel surgically.


Irina Nikiforova, 20, a secretary, said she had been waiting for a date to escort her to the theater when the bomb went off. Strolling casually underneath an umbrella, she suddenly received a legful of metal shrapnel, even though she was far enough from the blast to remain on her feet.


A McDonald's spokesman condemned the attack but said the company did not intend to tighten security as the bombing was apparently not directed against the restaurant and it suffered no damage. The restaurant, which opened in 1990, did business as usual Tuesday and received a steady stream of clients.


Some extremist political forces have cited McDonald's as the most prominent example of foreign encroachment on traditional Russian values. For instance, a band of Communist supporters associated with the newspaper Den held a rally condemning McDonald's on Pushkin Square on Oct. 8. Also this month, the leader of Pamyat, the anti-Semitic nationalist group, condemned McDonald's in a press conference.


But on Tuesday, police, witnesses and the McDonald's spokesman said there was no evidence suggesting the attack had been motivated by such sentiments.


"If it was against McDonald's, they would have thrown the grenade into McDonald's", said Buzovkin.


Of the eight wounded in the attack, two have left the hospital, nurses said Tuesday, one leaving before gaining doctor's permission.


Even though violent crime have increased dramatically in the Russian capital over the past few years, bombing attacks remain rare. There was a similar grenade attack near the Precinct No. 108 police station in 1988, according to Yury Fedoseyev of Moscow's criminal investigation division. Since that case was never solved, police will reopen the investigation, he said.