On January 8, 1977, in Moscow at that time something absolutely incredible happened: the capital of the USSR was covered with a wave of terrorist attacks. Within half an hour, homemade bombs exploded outside shops in the very center of the city, on a subway train. The MK correspondent happened to learn some facts about this tragic story from a person who took part in the investigative actions.
On that Saturday in January, terrorists prepared “Christmas presents” for Muscovites – a series of explosions in busy parts of the city.
The first bomb exploded at 17.33 on the “blue” metro line, in a train carriage moving from Izmaylovskaya station to Pervomayskaya. The second explosion occurred at 18:05 in grocery store No. 15 on Dzerzhinsky Street (now Lubyanka), not far from the complex of buildings of the KGB of the USSR. And the third charge was thrown five minutes later at the grocery store No. 5 at the corner of Nikolskaya (then it was called October 25 Street) and Bogoyavlensky Lane. As a result, 7 people died (all of them were passengers of the blown up subway train) and another 37 were injured.
For the “quietest” years in the country of “developed socialism” these figures seemed terrifying. Soviet citizens like this had never encountered anything before. So the crimes turned out to be loud, both literally and figuratively. Therefore, it is not surprising that the best investigators of the prosecutor’s office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB of the USSR were involved in the search for the perpetrators.
– Operations were codenamed “Explosives”. The head of the operational-search group was Major General of the KGB V.N. Udilov, – said the veteran of the security and human rights structures. – I, at that time a young employee, had a chance to participate in investigative actions at the site of the latest explosion that thundered on October 25 Street.
As part of a group of officers, I was sent to the scene. There, around food store No. 5, a cordon was set up to preserve possible evidence for the investigation. Although, to be honest, there was nothing special to guard. Muscovites and guests of the capital in the first minutes after the emergency, until law enforcement officers arrived at the store, managed to thoroughly trample all traces of the terrorists who had planted an explosive device in an urn outside the entrance to the trading floor.
A little later, a group of responsible comrades from the KGB arrived at the building near which the explosion thundered. Among them is the head of the Fifth Directorate, Philip Bobkov. The arrivals approached the entrance to the store, stopped there, exchanged opinions among themselves, and then moved back to Dzerzhinsky Square.
But Bobkov did not leave. He carefully examined the ruined, ill-fated urn. Then he turned to the building of the Moscow Historical and Archival Institute located opposite, on the other side of the street. Being nearby, I saw how Philip Denisovich looked up to the roof of the MIAI … He lingered in this position for a few moments, obviously thinking about something …
And after a short time, people passing along this street could observe a strange picture. Near the Historical and Archival Institute, three field army kitchens were installed and “fired up”, snow was melted in them, which was carefully collected on the roof of the building and carried down by young soldiers. To all the questions, the surprised passers-by were told that, they say, a film “about the war” was being shot.
In fact, in this way, at the suggestion of Bobkov, they hoped to find important evidence. Let me remind you once again: the terrorists planted an explosive device in the trash can at the entrance to the store. And then the urns, placed on the central streets of Moscow, were very solid – cast from cast iron. Therefore, the thick walls withstood the explosion of the charge laid inside (which the terrorists, of course, did not count on at all). As a result, the entire blast wave went up.
This circumstance made it possible to avoid casualties among passers-by. But it could also help in the work of the investigators. After all, the blast wave carried the fragments of the homemade bomb to the same place, “into the sky”.
Bobkov, examining the scene, realized that thanks to such a “fountain” some of these fragments could be carried onto the roof of the nearest building – the institute and get lost in the snow layer covering it.
As a result, it was decided to remove all the snow from the roof, melt it, and carefully filter the resulting water. And … Success! An alarm clock arrow was found in the melted piles of snow. Experts immediately realized that this device was used by terrorists as a timer for a time bomb.
It was possible to determine by the shape of the hand: this is a detail from a watch that was assembled at a factory in Yerevan. This is how the investigation got an “Armenian” trace. Particular attention was paid to this area of operational-search actions. Moreover, additional confirmation soon appeared. On the basis of the fragments found, it was established that in the same place, in Yerevan, a bag was made, in which one of the three explosive devices that went off that day lay.
Over the next several months, operational, scientific, technical and search units of the security forces were looking for terrorists. The territorial bodies of the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs checked all citizens and their entourage who traveled to Moscow on the days before the terrorist attacks.
We worked out the smallest clues. For example, at some stage, experts established that one of the explosive devices was wrapped in the newspaper Sovetsky Sport. After that, the departments of the KGB in Moscow and the Moscow region checked all the subscribers of this publication! ..
However, for the time being, there were no results. Meanwhile, as it turned out later, important information was stored in the archives of the Armenian security officers. Among others, there was a case against the founders of the illegal so-called “National United Party of Armenia” – NOP. Among its activists was a certain Stepan Zatikyan.
It was from him – a man who “moved” on the idea of nationalism and insisted that it was necessary to “punish the Russian oppressors” – the idea of creating an NOP was born in his head, which aimed at creating an independent Armenian state with the inclusion of the lands of Turkish Armenia. A group of like-minded people united around Zatian developed an active underground activity, illegal immigrants even published their own newspaper Paros (Mayak).
In 1968, the founders of the NOP, as well as several of their followers, were arrested and tried for participation in an anti-Soviet organization. After serving the appointed term of imprisonment, in 1972, Zatikyan went to work at the Yerevan Electromechanical Plant. By 1977 he was married with two children growing up in the family.
Based on the results of the investigation, it was concluded that it was Zatikyan who became the organizer of the terrorist attacks carried out on January 8, 1977 in Moscow. Hakob Stepanyan and Zaven Baghdasaryan, who were also members of the NOP, helped him to implement this plan.
All three were arrested. The trial over them took place in the Supreme Court of the USSR from January 16 to 20, 1979. According to the facts revealed, Zatikyan himself had an alibi: at the time of the explosions he was in Yerevan. However, this man, denying participation in the implementation of the terrorist attacks on January 8, did not try to hide his anti-Soviet views. In his last word, he said, addressing – in Armenian – to the representatives of his nation: “Tell others that we are left with revenge, revenge and revenge again!”
On January 24, all the accused were found guilty by the court and sentenced to death.
On January 30, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR rejected the pardon petition, and on the same day the three terrorists were shot.