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Meet Vladislav Roslyakov, the man behind Crimea's college massacre

Meduza

On October 17, a student at Kerch Polytechnic College in eastern Crimea murdered more than a dozen of his fellow classmates. Almost nothing is known about him, so far.

The armed individual filmed by surveillance cameras at Kerch Polytechnic College during Wednesday’s mass murder is named Vladislav Roslyakov. He is apparently the one who killed at least 19 students and instructors, injuring dozens more.

Eighteen years old, Roslyakov was a senior at Kerch Polytechnic College, enrolling at the school in 2015, according to Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee.

Speaking to the magazine RBC on the condition of anonymity, a friend said Roslyakov “really hated the college because of its evil teachers, and he hinted that he would get back at them.” “He never showed any signs of aggression, he was a quiet young man who never had any problems [with the police], and he was getting a stipend,” Sergey Aksyonov, the head of Crimea’s local government, told the television network Rossiya 24.

Most of what we know, so far, about Roslyakov comes from the tabloid Mash, which says he was a “shy young man who spoke to almost no one and who long ago deleted all his social media accounts.” Apparently, he also had an unhealthy interest in serial murderers. Roslyakov’s parents are reportedly divorced and he lives with his mother, who works as a nurse at a local oncology clinic. Mash later reported that police detained Roslyakov’s father for questioning.

Another source claiming to be one of Roslyakov’s classmates told Mash that he came to campus on Wednesday with two backpacks: one gray and one black. The classmate says he and another student said hello to Roslyakov, surprised that he'd skipped class that morning. Later, when the young men were outside, they heard gunfire.

Without revealing the source of the information, the Telegram channel 112 claims that Roslyakov got a license in early September for a 12-gauge firearm, and he apparently bought 150 rounds for the weapon. Crimea’s children’s rights commissioner, Irina Klyueva, later confirmed that Roslyakov got a permit for a hunting rifle in early October.

Roslyakov was found dead on the second floor of the college’s main building. According to Aksyonov, the teenager shot himself.

Several media outlets immediately reported that Roslyakov had a Vkontakte account under the name “Vladislav Reich.” It isn’t true.

At 3:22 p.m., the tabloid REN-TV reported that Roslyakov had a Vkontakte account under the pseudonym Vladislav Reich. Several other news outlets — including Moskovsky Komsomolets, Znak, and Izvestia — soon ran the same story. “This confirms claims that he was a fan of [Columbine shooters] Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold,” declared Moskovsky Komsomolets. The “Vladislav Reich” page, however, contains no evidence that the account holder had any special interest in the Columbine high school massacre.

The Vkontakte user “Vladislav Reich” has two friends. Meduza contacted one of these people through Odnoklassniki (another Russian social network), and she said she has no idea who Vladislav Roslyakov is, explaining that the “Reich” account belongs to her son, who’s home with her now and also doesn’t know Roslyakov. (On her Odnoklassniki account, the woman has photographs of a teenager who looks like the young man pictured on the “Reich” Vkontakte account.) “Are you trying to give someone a heart attack? Your information is bad,” she added, and then stopped responding to Meduza’s messages. At 4:32 p.m. (a few hours after Roslyakov shot himself), “Vladislav Reich” changed his profile picture.

One of Roslyakov’s classmates told Meduza that “Reich” “doesn’t look anything like Roslyakov.” Meduza has also obtained screenshots of chat messages with “Reich.” In one message, time-stamped at 4:13 p.m. on October 17, he wrote: “Well that’s that. They’ve ID’d him. But goddamn — how am I supposed to walk the streets now?”

The Telegram channel MDK later published part of a video featuring “Reich,” where he says, “The media confused me with a terrorist. They published my photo and hyperlinks to my page, even though I have nothing to do with this.”

Text by Evgeny Berg and Alexander Gorbachev. Taisiya Bekbulatova contributed to this report. Translation by Kevin Rothrock.