MOSCOW — A nanny accused of decapitating a 4-year-old girl and brandishing her head outside a Moscow subway station said during an apparent interrogation captured on video that the killing was an act of revenge against President Vladimir Putin for Russian airstrikes in Syria.
Asked about the video, which was released Thursday, Putin’s spokesman said it was difficult to judge the testimony of a woman he called “clearly deranged.”
Gulchekhra Bobokulova, 38, was detained in Moscow on Monday after the child in her care was killed. Video footage posted online Thursday appeared to show police interrogating her. It was not clear where the video originated, and The Associated Press could not verify its authenticity or the circumstances in which it was taken. She appeared to be wearing the same clothes she wore during a court appearance on Wednesday.
In the video, she says the killing of the child was done in revenge. Asked who it was revenge against, she says “the one who has spilled the blood.” Asked who that was, she replies: “Who spilled it? Putin has been dropping bombs.”
Russia has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria for five months to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s offensive against rebels. Russian officials have flatly denied numerous reports by international aid groups that accuse it of killing not only Islamic State fighters but also Syrian civilians.
The Investigative Committee, Russia’s top investigative agency, would not confirm or deny the authenticity of the video, but spokesman Vladimir Markin warned that Bobokulova’s words should be treated with caution.
“The motive for a crime committed by a person who was diagnosed with schizophrenia often does not coincide with the explanations that they give later,” he said, adding that investigators will look into all possible theories.
Russian officials seem to be sending mixed messages about the suspect, focusing on her mental record but also suggesting that she probably did not act alone. Prosecutors told the court Wednesday that individuals who may have “incited” Bobokulova to kill the child may still be at large.
Russian media have reported that Bobokulova, originally from the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2003. She has not yet undergone a psychiatric examination in Russia.
Markin rejected reports that Russian investigators found phone numbers of Islamic extremists in Bobokulova’s contacts.
In the video, she tells investigators she reads the Quran and prays day and night but that they can go kill her three children in Uzbekistan, who don’t read the Quran.
Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said it would be wrong to draw conclusions from the video.
“It appears obvious to me — although I may be wrong, I’m not an expert or judge — that we are evidently talking about a woman who is clearly deranged,” he said.
Russian state television has not covered the murder. As social media users scramble to get information about the grisly, Russian opposition figures have accused the Kremlin of gagging the press in order to prevent a legitimate discussion about migrant workers in Russia.
Nationalist politicians have for years campaigned to impose visas on citizens of Central Asian nations who make up the most of Russia’s migrant worker population, citing crime rates and the scarcity of jobs for Russians. Government officials have acknowledged the problem of undocumented migrants but have said imposing visas on Central Asians would cost Russia its influence in this strategic region.
“She entered Russia without work permit,” opposition politician Vladimir Milov tweeted on Thursday. “This would not have happened with the visa regime in place. The child would be alive.”
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny said in a blog post Thursday that the Muslim community should be more proactive in fighting Islamic extremism.
“The spreading of such a half-deranged religious extremism is clearly a problem of the Muslim religious community,” he said. “If a person goes mad because of personal or medical issues and has decided to turn to religion, it is the task of the community (not the government or entire society) to make sure she meets the people who could help her deal with this crisis in the head.”