Ukraine war: Russian ex-navy commander shot dead while jogging in Krasnodar

Source: BBC

A former Russian submarine captain who worked as a mobilisation officer has been shot dead while jogging in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, according to local media.

Stanislav Rzhitsky, 42, was shot dead on Monday by an unidentified gunman, Russia’s state-run Rossiya 1 reported.

Several Russian media outlets speculated he may have been tracked via his profile on the Strava fitness app.

Russian authorities have started an investigation into the killing.

The country’s Investigative Committee – the equivalent of the US FBI – said a murder probe has been launched and that officials would seek to “establish all the circumstances of the incident, as well as the person who committed the crime and his motives”.

The former Naval officer was shot in the back and the chest by an unidentified gunman while he was taking his morning jog in a park near the Olimp sports centre, Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported.

Baza, a Russian Telegram channel with close ties to the police, reported that the killer could have tracked Cpt Rzhitsky’s runs on Strava as he regularly followed the same route while running.

A BBC Verify analysis of Cpt Rzhitsky’s profile – which is public – shows that he frequently ran through the area where he is reported to have been killed. Facial analysis carried out by the BBC confirmed the profile belonged to Cpt Rzhitsky.

His address and personal details had also been uploaded to the Ukrainian website Myrotvorets (Peacemaker), a vast unofficial database of people considered to be enemies of Ukraine.

The word “Liquidated”, in red letters, has now been superimposed on his photograph on the site.

In a statement, Ukraine’s military intelligence said the park was deserted due to heavy rain, “so there are no witnesses who could provide details or identify the attacker”.

Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian interior ministry adviser, tweeted that Russian media were accusing Ukraine of involvement but he did not say whether that suspicion was justified.

“So far Russian police cannot find a single surveillance camera that would show the crime being committed. The search continues,” he said.

Cpt Rzhitsky’s watch and headphones were found at the scene, indicating robbery was not the motive, according to Russian news outlet Mash.

He reportedly commanded the Krasnodar submarine, named after the city, in the Russian Navy.

Ukrainian media has said he could have been in command of the vessel when it carried out a missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia in July 2022, which killed 23 people, including three children.

The Ukrainian government said the attack came from Kalibr cruise missiles launched from a submarine in the Black Sea.

But Baza has quoted Cpt Rzhitsky’s father saying that his son resigned from the Russian armed forces in December 2021 – before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

He subsequently became the deputy mobilisation officer in the Krasnodar region.

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