Russian submarine commander killed by gunman on morning run

Online news outlets claim that sub commander Stanislav Rzhitsky was involved in missile attack on Ukraine that killed 23 civilians.

A Russian diesel-electric submarine Krasnodar sails upon its arrival afer taking part in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Russian diesel-electric submarine Krasnodar upon its arrival in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, in 2017, after taking part in Russian military operations in Syria [File: Pavel Rebrov/Reuters]

A Russian submarine commander and deputy chief in charge of military mobilisation in Russia’s southern city of Krasnodar has been shot dead, Russia’s state TASS news agency reported, citing law enforcement bodies.

According to TASS, the official, Stanislav Rzhitsky, was killed by a gunman on Monday morning and a criminal case into the killing has been opened.

The slain official was also the commander of a Russian Black Sea Fleet submarine that local online news outlets in Ukraine claimed was responsible for launching Kalibr cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets.

Rzhitsky had commanded the Krasnodar submarine, named after the city, in the Russian Navy, TASS reported. It was unclear whether he was the captain of the submarine at the time of his killing.

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”.

Online media covering Russia and Ukraine claimed that Rzhitsky was shot four times during a morning run near a sports complex, and that he had been involved in a submarine-launched missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia in July 2022 that killed 23 civilians, including three children.

Russia attempted to justify the missile attack last year by claiming its submarine-launched missiles had targeted a meeting of Ukrainian air force commanders and representatives of Western arms suppliers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the missile attack on the city “an open act of terrorism”, which had killed civilians going about their daily business.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the time that he was “appalled” by the deaths in Vinnytsia and the European Union said that it was an “atrocity”.

Both the UN and EU called for accountability.

Among the three children killed was a four-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome Liza Dmitrieva, who was en route to see a speech therapist with her mother when the missile struck.

Liza’s mother, Iryna Dmitrieva, was severely injured and left fighting for her life.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies