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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Terrorist Alert System in the Works

The National Anti-Terrorist Committee will introduce a system for alerting the public to terrorist threats, officials said Tuesday.

Committee staff "and concerned executive agencies are jointly developing a scale of terrorist threat levels, and plan to introduce a bill to inform the public about the threat," a committee member told Interfax on Tuesday.

The system is meant to avoid confusing communication gaffes like the emergency announcement earlier this year that sparked a nationwide scare.

On Jan. 16, Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev announced that terrorists were targeting the public transportation system.

The following day, Patrushev, the committee chair, called off the alert, leaving it to committee spokesman Nikolai Sintsov to say no evidence of a threat had been found.

That numerous law enforcement agents had been jolted into preparing for an attack that never happened led to speculation that the whole incident was a test.

On Tuesday, Patrushev defended the January announcement, saying he had gone public with the information after "foreign partners" issued a warning, Interfax reported.

Looking toward the future, Patrushev said the National Anti-Terrorist Committee is seeking to develop a cooperative "algorithm" with journalists.

The committee, he said, would encourage journalists to report on critical news events so long as their reporting did not reach terrorists, thereby "increasing the probability of a terrorist attack." Patrushev declined to elaborate on this new arrangement.

Sintsov added that 300 anti-terrorism exercises would be staged in the country this year.

Patrushev also said 300 terrorist attacks had been stopped last year, including a planned incident in the North Caucasus city of Cherkessk that would have rivaled the events that took place at Nalchik in 2005, when 200 rebels stormed the city.