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Russian Military Officer on Ukrainian Blacklist Shot Dead in Apparent Assassination

A Russian military officer, Stanislav Rzhitsky, who had previously commanded a submarine in the Black Sea and was listed on a Ukrainian blacklist of alleged war criminals, was fatally shot while on his morning run by an unidentified assailant.

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The incident occurred on Monday morning in the city of Krasnodar, located in southern Russia. Rzhitsky, 42, had been included on the Ukrainian website Myrotvorets (Peacemaker), an unofficial database of individuals deemed as enemies of Ukraine. Disturbingly, on Tuesday, his photograph on the site had the word “Liquidated” superimposed on it in red letters.

On Tuesday, Russia’s state Investigative Committee announced the arrest of a suspect in his early 60s who was apprehended with a pistol and silencer. A video released by the committee depicted heavily armed security officers storming a house and detaining the suspect, who was only dressed in boxer shorts.

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Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency published details of the killing on its website, refraining from claiming responsibility or divulging how it obtained the information. According to the agency, Rzhitsky was shot seven times with a Makarov pistol while running in a deserted city park at approximately six in the morning, resulting in his immediate death.

Reports from Baza, a Russian Telegram channel associated with the security services, suggested that the assailant may have tracked Rzhitsky’s movements through an app where he regularly shared details about his jogging route in Krasnodar, including the time it took him to complete it. Russian state media and war bloggers mentioned that Rzhitsky had previously served as the deputy head of military mobilization in the city and had commanded the “Krasnodar” submarine in the Black Sea.

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A Telegram channel utilized by self-proclaimed pro-Ukraine partisans, who have claimed responsibility for numerous sabotage attacks within Russia, alleged, without presenting evidence, that Rzhitsky was suspected of involvement in a submarine-launched cruise missile strike that occurred in July 2022. This strike resulted in the deaths of at least 23 individuals, including a 4-year-old girl, in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia.

Rzhitsky’s father, as quoted by Baza, stated that his son had resigned from the military at the end of 2021 and was discharged the following August after experiencing delays.

Tragically, this incident marks at least the third assassination of pro-war Russian individuals listed on the Myrotvorets database within Russia since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine nearly 17 months ago. Last August, journalist Darya Dugina was killed in a bomb attack, followed by the assassination of war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in April.

Russia has consistently blamed Ukraine for these attacks, although Kyiv has vehemently denied any involvement. Ukrainian authorities have instead suggested that the assassinations are a consequence of infighting within Russia.