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Two feds dead Here's what we know about Moscow's shootout, a day later

Source: Meduza
Andrey Reznichenko / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

On the evening of December 19, Russia’s Federal Security Service building in downtown Moscow was attacked. In a chaotic exchange of gunfire, two federal agents were killed and another four people were injured (one of whom is still in critical condition). One of the less severely wounded victims is a civilian. The assailant, who was also killed, reportedly carried a backpack filled with grenades and an explosive device, which a robot later defused. Federal investigators have confirmed that the man responsible for the attack was Evgeny Manyurov. His photograph is now circulating online. Meduza reviews what we know so far about this deadly incident.

A 39-year-old man named Evgeny Manyurov opened fire in Lubyanka Square. There is a VKontakte account registered to a man with this name that’s mostly blank, except for listing his place of education as the Russian State University of Justice. REN-TV says Manyurov was trained as a lawyer and lived in Podolsk, a city south of Moscow. The “SPARK-Interfax” registrar mentions a Podolsk native named Evgeny Manyurov, who registered as a self-employed legal worker in December 2014, but he canceled this status the following April. Someone named Evgeny Manyurov is also enrolled in a “Sociological Analysis of Advertising Communication” course at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.

Manyurov worked for private security firms, according to REN-TV and Komsomolskaya Pravda. His father told the Telegram channel 112 that his son’s work included guarding the United Arab Emirates’s embassy. Manyurov’s mother, however, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that her son was unemployed and had started “talking to some kind of Arabs on the phone in English” (a language she does not speak). The website Baza says Manyurov’s mother only accidentally learned about her son losing his job: on December 19, when he didn’t return home, she called one of his (former) colleagues and found out then. His mother says he took an early interest in boxing and hand-to-hand combat and spoke good English, but never served in the army or had a wife, children, or any close friends. Manyurov apparently didn’t smoke or drink, but he’d recently been in a “certain state of excitement,” his mother says.

When law-enforcement officers arrived at the apartment of Manyurov’s mother to search the premises, one of the officials punched Baza reporter Anna Nikitina in the face. Nikitina reached Mrs. Manyurova’s home before the officers. When the authorities arrived at the apartment and found the journalists, they reportedly checked her press credentials and then handed her over to their supervisor, who apparently threatened to ruin her career in journalism, before striking her. Nikitina was then held in custody for several hours before she was released without charges.

Baza later reported that one of the private security firms that employed Manyurov was “Vympel-Reserve,” which was co-owned until 2010 by Boris Beskov, the former head of the “Vympel” Spetsnaz unit (now known as the FSB’s Spetsgruppa "V"). Vympel-Reserve previously founded the “Vympel-Union” association of veterans and intelligence officers, which was dissolved in 2015.

Manyurov liked guns. In November 2019, he finished third in a pistol-caliber carbine competition at the Moscow Municipal Sports and Shooting Range. According to Komsomolskaya Pravda, he also participated in another competition in October that was held in honor of Dmitry Razumovsky, a lieutenant colonel who was killed while freeing hostages at the Beslan School Siege in 2004. Manyurov’s mother told Baza that her son had been training at shooting ranges for three or four years and he “really enjoyed it.” Meanwhile, Oleg Solovich, who coached Manyurov at the Moscow Municipal Sports and Shooting Range, told Komsomoloskaya Pravda that Manyurov had come to him for about three months and had poor aim. Solovich says he practiced in a hooded black jacket, claiming that he was more comfortable shooting like that. Komsomoloskaya Pravda says Manyurov was wearing this jacket when he attacked the FSB building.

The authorities found an arsenal of weapons when they searched Manyurov’s home. He had all the required permits, a police source told Komsomoloskaya Pravda. “Everything was registered officially at the place of residence. There were seven guns in all: gas-powered, non-lethal, smoothbore, and rifled. They still haven’t found the gas-powered weapon,” said the newspaper’s source, who claims the police did recover many rounds of ammunition and two loaded magazines for an automatic weapon. REN-TV reported that Manyurov tried last year to sell his “Bekas” pump-action shotgun through an online forum for gun enthusiasts for between 7,500 and 8,500 rubles ($120 to $135). Sources in the Moscow police department told the news website RBC that Manyurov attacked the FSB building with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Manyurov’s motives remain unclear. Officials are still entertaining theories that the incident was a “terrorist crime” timed to coincide with Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference and Russia’s Day of Security Officers, sources told the newspaper Kommersant. A day earlier, a source told Reuters that the attack might have been timed to coincide with the president’s press event and the state holiday. Currently, officials are treating the attack as an attempt on the lives of law-enforcement officers, but a source told Kommersant that attempted terrorism and murder charges could be added to the case (because a civilian was injured). Kommersant says investigators have spoken to eyewitnesses who heard the attacker shout slogans characteristic of the terrorist group ISIS.

Summary by Olga Korelina

Translation by Kevin Rothrock