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Officials arrest suspected teenage terrorist in Khabarovsk whose classmate gunned down two federal agents in 2017

Meduza

Federal agents arrested a student in Khabarovsk for plotting a terrorist attack. He was planning a school shooting.

On February 21 in Khabarovsk, federal agents detained 18-year-old Alexander Onufrienko on charges of plotting a terrorist attack. The case is being handled by the regional branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), which has not commented officially on the arrest.

The first reports about Onufrienko’s arrest appeared on the Telegram channel Baza on February 23. Sources told the outlet that the Khabarovsk student planned to commit mass murder at his former school. The Telegram channel later clarified that local 18-year-old Alexander Onufrienko had been preparing the attack for some time: when searching his home, officers discovered a 16-gauge sawed-off shotgun and 96 rounds. Sources told Baza that Onufrienko worshipped the Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Breivik as a role model.

On February 28, Meduza confirmed that Khabarovsk’s Central District Court jailed Onufrienko in pretrial detention on February 22. The court’s website doesn’t mention his case, but a spokesperson told Meduza that Onufrienko’s hearing was not closed to the public.

Onufrienko was a “quiet student,” who loved cosplay and historical reenactment

Alexander Onufrienko graduated from Khabarovsk’s “Number 30” high school in 2018. Alexander Vozmilkin, who went to school with Onufrienko until ninth grade, told Meduza that he was a quiet student who did well in class and “got along with everyone,” though he never made many close friends. “Sometimes he’d hang out with other people, and sometimes not,” Vozmilkin recalls. “But he got along with everyone. He was sociable, though not with everyone. I think he used to attend events at the regional Navolochkin Children’s Library. I hadn’t heard anything about Breivik until the news reports after [Onufrienko’s] arrest.”

According to information about Onufrienko available on the school’s website, he was interested in history, and in 2017 he presented a report during the school’s “Innovation Week” about intervention and civil war in the Far East. In 2018, he matriculated at the regional branch of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, where he started studying to be a “national security lawyer.”

Onufrienko also took an interest in cosplay, dressing up as famous historical or fictional characters. In 2015, he served as coordinator for one of the sites in Khabarovsk’s “Anime Factor” cosplay festival. Judging by the photos he’s shared on Instagram, Onufrienko is particularly fond of the Russian Civil War.

The local news outlet Khabarovsky Krai Segodnya has reported that Onufrienko also likes “airsoft” (a competitive team shooting sport similar to paintball) and historical battle reenactments. Airsoft players in the area, however, told Meduza that they’d never heard of Alexander Onufrienko. “There’s definitely nobody by that name in our group, or else we’d have at least some info about him,” said a spokesperson for the Khabarovsk airsoft community, who asked Meduza not to reveal his name.

Onufrienko studied at the same school as Anton Konev, who later attacked a local FSB office

Alexander Onufrienko’s mother, Tatiana, teaches language and literature at the same high school where her son allegedly planned a mass shooting. One of his classmates was Anton Konev, who on April 21, 2017 (a few days before he would have turned 18), opened fire on the regional FSB branch building, killing two people and injuring another, before he was gunned down himself. Tatiana Onufrienko was Konev’s homeroom teacher.

Konev’s mother is also named Tatiana. Speaking to Meduza, she called Alexander Onufrienko’s mother a “good teacher and a good person in general.” “Their family is perfectly ordinary,” she explained. “My heart goes out to her right now, since she comes up in both cases, and they’ll probably suspect her of something now. I don’t want her to be vilified like they did to me in 2017.” Koneva says she doesn’t know if her son knew Alexander Onufrienko.

Unlike Anton Konev, who belonged to Khabarovsk’s right-wing nationalists, Onufrienko has no known associations with local radical groups. Several sources with ties to radicals in the region told Meduza that they’ve never seen Onufrienko in any of their circles.

Tatiana Koneva says the two cases don’t compare. “I don’t know that Alexander wanted to kill children… But I know that Anton never would have done this. According to his convictions, he fought against the intolerance of the state, believing that he could change something,” Koneva says.

Ekaterina Vayukova, reporting from Khabarovsk

Translation by Kevin Rothrock