Local Russian media reported that well over 45,000 people were evacuated from major buildings and public transport terminals in Moscow yesterday due to bomb scares. Train stations, a university, and several shopping centers sounded the alarm and people immediately searched for the nearest exit.
When asked, the Russian government officials did not give an explanation for the threats though. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, stated that there was nothing to report and declined to comment any further on journalist questions regarding the issue. As is well known, journalistic freedoms are quite limited in Russia and the press knows that there is no need t insist.
The official state apparatus news agency, Tass said that: “This appears to be a case of telephone terrorism, but we have to check the credibility of these messages."
“Twenty sites are currently being evacuated, and more than 10,000 people have been escorted out, though the specific number is still being confirmed.
Three metro stations in Moscow (Leningrad, Kiev, and Kazan) were immediately evacuated, as well as the Moscow State Medical University.
The most famous shopping center in Moscow, GUM, located near the Red Square, issued a message on its website saying the building had been temporarily closed "for technical reasons".
Local police forces were assisted by teams of the Russian army whilst officers with sniffer dogs could be seen investigating the buildings, both outside and inside. However, no explosives were found.
Another Russian news agency said the calls were coming from landlines in Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia are involved in a stalemate war for a part of Ukraine’s territory. The diplomatic relations between Moscow and Kiev hit a new low following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, which prompted international condemnation and caused many sanctions on Russia both from the European Union and the US.