While many Russians have opted to flee the country to dodge Vladimir Putin’s desperate draft for the war in Ukraine, one man took his protest a little bit further and shot a recruitment commander.
Local authorities announced Monday’s attack, which unfolded in the city of Ust-Ilimsk in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. A video of the incident inside an enlistment office appears to show the gunman dressed in military fatigues firing on the official at point-blank range, causing other potential draftees to flee the room.
The shooter identified himself in a video published on social media as 25-year-old Ruslan Zinin, Reuters reports. Writing on encrypted messaging app Telegram, Irkutsk regional governor Igor Kobzev said the draft officer was left fighting for his life and remained in a critical condition after the shooting. Kobzev added that the shooter had been detained and “will absolutely be punished.”
“I am ashamed that this is happening at a time when, on the contrary, we should be united,” the governor added. “We must fight not against each other, but against real threats.”
A witness to the shooting said the gunman opened fire after the recruiting commander had delivered a “clumsy” pep talk for the men assembled in the office to go off to battle in Ukraine. “Nobody is going anywhere,” the shooter said before beginning the assault, the witness told the Baikal People outlet, according to The Guardian.
The shooter was said to have been upset about his friend being conscripted.
Separately, another man tried to burn himself alive at a bus station in Ryazan, about 115 miles southeast of Moscow. A witness to the self-immolation attempt told a local news channel that the man “laughed and shouted that he did not want to be part of the special operation” in Ukraine, referring to the legally-enforced euphemism that Putin is using to describe the war. Disturbing CCTV footage shows the man dousing himself in lighter fluid before erupting in flames, Meduza reports. The man’s condition is not known, though he reportedly suffered 90 percent burns across his body.
The shooting is just the latest attack on Russian enlistment offices since Putin announced the mobilization of around 300,000 new troops last Wednesday, which has plunged the country into chaos. At least 17 administrative offices have been torched in arson attacks since the call-up was announced, according to the independent Mediazona news site, with many fearing that the initially limited mobilization will eventually expand to encompass much greater numbers than those touted by the Russian president.
Hundreds of Russians have also been arrested after public protests opposing the draft as thousands more have attempted to get out of their homeland before it’s too late. An alarming report over the weekend suggested that the Kremlin is planning to take the extreme measure of closing the border to men of fighting age on Wednesday in order to stop the drain of potential reserves for Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.