President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed to annihilate all “terrorists” in Russia, talking tough after two deadly bomb attacks in the southern city of Volgograd that raised security fears ahead of the Winter Olympics.
The uncompromising remarks in a televised New Year address were Putin’s first public comments since suicide bombers killed at least 34 people in attacks less than 24 hours apart on a railway station and a trolleybus on Sunday and Monday.
“We will confidently, fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation,” he said in remarks from the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, where he met victims of severe floods.
Putin traveled early on Wednesday to Volgograd, where he visited wounded victims in hospital, placed red roses at the trolleybus bombing site and held a meeting on counterterrorism efforts with senior security officials, the Kremlin said.
In the New Year address, he acknowledged “problems and serious tests” in 2013, including the Volgograd bombings, and vowed to ensure security in the year ahead.
The bombings just ahead of Russia’s biggest annual holiday followed another suicide bus blast in Volgograd in October and came little more than a month before the start of Games on whose success Putin has staked his personal reputation.