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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Frightened by Terrorism, Schools Tighten Security




Saying they feared new terrorist attacks, Moscow school authorities have tightened security, posting police guards at the city's schools and kindergartens.


The move, implemented Friday, came after two suspicious men visited a Moscow kindergarten at Palekhskaya Ulitsa on Nov. 30. Police said the men inspected the building and asked school officials about the schedule and the time parents usually come to pick up their children.


They said they were considering putting their children in the kindergarten and left telephone numbers and addresses which turned out to be false. The two left in a car with tinted windows and number plates smeared in dirt.


The kindergarten employees remembered the instructions they received after the deadly Moscow apartment building bombings earlier this year and warned the police. Sketches of the visitors - one of them a Russian, another resembling a Caucasian, and both aged about 25 - were done and circulated. During further investigation, it turned out that two men answering the description made similar visits to other Moscow kindergartens Nov. 19, 20 and 30.


"It is obvious to us that these men were planning a crime," Kirill Mazurin, spokesman for the Moscow police criminal investigation department, said Monday. "It could be a terrorist act or abduction of children, whatever."


At a kindergarten at Ulitsa Nizhnyaya Maslovka, the policeman could not be seen immediately at the door and only appeared when an employee went looking for him. Director Tatyana Simakova said, however, that security, which used to consist only of an elderly night watchman, was boosted last Friday.


Two policemen are now working in shifts and parents take turns guarding the premises in the evenings and on the weekends. Documents of everyone walking onto the kindergarten's territory are checked, she said. The entrance door is locked daily until 3 p.m.


But the children aren't kept inside all the time. "We still go for a walk with the kids every day," said Simakova.


Although the two men's visits could have been part of a check-up of the city police's work conducted by Interior Ministry agents, Mazurin said he would be relieved if that proves to be true. "When it comes to vigilance, it's better to do too much than not do enough," he said.