Moscow: A Russian military official who had commanded a submarine in the Black Sea and appeared on a Ukrainian blacklist of alleged war criminals has been shot dead by an unknown assassin while on his morning run.
Russia’s top investigative body said Stanislav Rzhitsky, 42, was gunned down early on Monday in the southern city of Krasnodar.
Rzhitsky’s address and personal details appeared on the Ukrainian website Myrotvorets (Peacemaker), a vast unofficial database of people considered to be enemies of Ukraine.
On Tuesday the word “Liquidated”, in red letters, had been superimposed on his photograph on the site.
Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian interior ministry adviser, tweeted that Russian media were pointing the finger at Ukraine but he did not comment on 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,” Gerashchenko said.
Baza, a Russian Telegram channel with links to the security services, said the killer could have tracked Rzhitsky’s movements in Krasnodar on an app where he posted details of his regular jogging route and how long he took to complete it.
Russian state media and war bloggers said Rzhitsky was deputy head of military mobilisation in the city and had previously commanded the “Krasnodar” submarine in the Black Sea.
He was shot four times in the back and chest and died on the spot, the reports said.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Krasnodar is a diesel-electric submarine built for the Black Sea fleet and designed “to fight surface ships and submarines, lay mines, and conduct reconnaissance”.
A Telegram channel used by self-styled pro-Ukraine partisans who have claimed hundreds of sabotage attacks inside Russia said - without stating evidence - that Rzhitsky was suspected of involvement in a submarine-launched cruise missile strike in July 2022 that killed at least 23 people including a 4-year-old girl in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia.
At least two other pro-war Russian figures in the Myrotvorets database have been assassinated inside Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine nearly 17 months ago. Bomb attacks killed journalist Darya Dugina last August and war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in April.
Russia has blamed Ukraine for the attacks, while Kyiv has denied involvement, suggesting they are the result of Russian infighting.