‘Suspect’ in Murder of Russian Sub Commander Nabbed in Underwear

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo by Strava fitness app
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo by Strava fitness app

A Russian submarine commander blamed for atrocities in Ukraine was gunned down on his morning jog in Krasnodar—and his killer likely knew just where to find him thanks to his habit of posting his running routes on a popular exercise app.

Stanislav Rzhitsky, a commander of a submarine in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and the deputy head of mobilization efforts in Krasnodar, was shot four times in the back and chest in broad daylight on Monday morning, according to local media reports.

On Tuesday, the Investigative Committee reported that a man had been detained in connection to the killing, posting a video on Telegram of officers raiding a home and cornering the alleged suspect, who was filmed lying on the ground in his underwear.

“In the Krasnodar Territory, investigators of the Investigative Committee, together with employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB , detained Sergey Denisenko, born in 1959, who is being checked for involvement in the murder of Stanislav Rzhitsky,” the agency said in a statement, without providing more information about the suspect or potential motives.

Earlier, Russian media claimed investigators believed the 42-year-old’s assassination was “ordered from Ukraine,” though Ukrainian authorities have painted a much murkier picture of the whodunnit mystery.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate on Tuesday confirmed Rzhitsky’s murder but did not claim responsibility for it, noting only that he had commanded a Russian submarine “involved in missile attacks on Ukraine.” They said he’d been shot seven times with a Makarov pistol.

Ukrainian intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov denied that Kyiv had any involvement in the killing, writing on Telegram on Tuesday that the “roots” of the murder “should be sought within Russia itself, where internal protest against the war in Ukraine is growing.”

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The Krasnodar submarine, equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles, was blamed by Ukrainian media for an attack on Vinnytsia last year that killed 27 people. Rzhitsky was also listed in a Ukrainian database that names and shames all those accused of involvement in war crimes.

But Ukrainian authorities say Rzhitsky had also made enemies in the Russian military after refusing to carry out any more missile strikes on Ukraine due to the risks to the civilian population. In a statement, the Department of Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed Rzhitsky was “eliminated by his own for refusing to further carry out the command’s combat orders.”

Bizarrely, Rzhitsky’s own family is now claiming he wasn’t even in the military anymore, and that he was not involved in the so-called “special military operation” against Ukraine.

In comments to the Baza Telegram channel, Rzhitsky’s father said he was formally dismissed from the military in August 2022 and joined the Krasnodar administration a few months later. That’s where he served as deputy chief of the department overseeing mobilization in the southern city.

“He didn’t take part in the [war] in any way,” his father was quoted saying.

Rzhitsky had not been receiving any threats at the time of his murder, his family and a friend said.

But it appears he may have inadvertently made it quite easy for his killer or killers to find him: Rzhitsky regularly posted his running routes on the popular exercise app Strava, and he usually stuck to the same route, according to Baza.

“Largely thanks to this, it was not difficult for the killer to choose a convenient spot for the execution,” Baza noted.

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