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Mass shooting at a Russian training ground The Russian defense ministry reports 11 dead in a shooting within a military unit in Belgorod. Unofficial sources say the number may be twice as high.

Source: Meduza
Donat Sorokin / TASS

A deadly shooting at a Russian military training ground in the Belgorod region has killed 11 and injured 15, according to official sources. Unconfirmed reports by witnesses say the number of casualties may be as much as twice that. The incident allegedly occurred when Russian officers made derogatory remarks about Allah to volunteers of Tajik origin. Official reports say there were two shooters, both of whom were killed. A witness says a third shooter escaped. The incident occurred against the backdrop of frequent shelling in Belgorod and complaints from soldiers about conditions at the training ground and on the front lines.

On October 15, a deadly shooting occurred at a military training ground in the Belgorod region. The Russian Ministry of Defense reports that 15 people have been killed and another 11 injured; the publication Sota, citing a witness to the event, writes that 22 people were killed and 16 injured.

The defense ministry reported that on Saturday, during shooting drills for volunteers, two citizens “of another CIS country” opened fire on personnel. According to the defense ministry the shooters were killed. Sota claims that there were three shooters, and that one of them allegedly managed to flee. According to unofficial sources, the shooting took place in the first half of the day. The defense ministry made an announcement only in the evening.

Ukrainian pro-Kremlin blogger Anatoly Shary posted photos from the training ground, showing human bodies lying on the ground. 13 bodies are visible in the shots. Shary also posted a photograph of a certificate from the Russian Ministry of Defense, issued on October 11 to Private Amizonda, Ehson Tojiddin, stating that he is serving in Unit 02511, in the village of Kamenka in the Leningrad region. Shary did not specify whether this man was among the attackers or the victims.

Blogger Anatoly Shary posted photos from the scene of a mass shooting at a Russian military training ground

Russian “patriotic” Telegram channels report that the shooters were apparently from Tajikistan. This has not been officially confirmed. In September, Russian authorities decided to simplify Russian citizenship application procedures for foreigners who agree to serve in the Russian armed forces.

According to the publication Astra, a witness to the incident says the conflict on the training ground may have been about religion. According to the witness, one of the commanders called the war against Ukraine “holy,” and servicemen of Tajik origin responded that a holy war is one waged by Muslims against non-believers. Journalists have not yet been able to independently confirm this report. A lieutenant colonel named Andrey Lapin then allegedly called Allah a “weakling” and a “coward.” 

Soon after, according to Astra’s source, three servicemen of Tajik origin told other Muslims on the firing range to step aside, killed the lieutenant colonel, and then fired randomly, allegedly killing 29 more people. An officer named Semyonov heard shots and then allegedly killed two of the attackers and injured the third, who managed to escape.

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Astra’s source named the alleged killers as senior sergeant Bizkot, junior sergeant Ami (who allegedly escaped), and Anushe.

The Russian Ministry of Defense described the events as a terrorist attack. The Investigative Committee reported around midday Sunday that it was opening a criminal case, but did not specify the charges. According to Kommersant the department was investigating murder charges, and “might add” charges of terrorism.

Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov called the events “a frightening incident” and said that “many service members were killed and wounded.” He emphasized that there were no Belgorod residents among the victims.

Many people drafted from the Bryansk region are currently located at the Soloty training grounds, and they have previously complained about problems there. Sota’s source said that some Bryansk residents were among the injured. In the beginning of September, Sota reported that more than 100 conscripts from Bryansk refused to go to Ukraine from the Soloty training grounds, regardless of threats from authorities. They were allegedly supposed to be sent on an offensive to the Lyman territories that Russian armed forces lost in early October.

On October 15, seven women from the city of Fokino, in Bryansk, posted a video message to Vladimir Putin. The women’s relatives had been mobilized and, they said, sent to the front without preparation, although they “signed up to defend their own territory,” not for the front lines in Ukraine. The women also mention officers from the unit in Soloty, who, one woman says, threaten conscripts with criminal penalties for refusing “to be cannon fodder.”

In the evening of October 16, Bryansk governor Alexander Bogomaz announced that no residents of the region were among the victims of the shooting.

Seven women sent a video message to Vladimir Putin about their relatives who were mobilized and sent to the front. They say, among other things, “it’s simply a betrayal that they’re going there unprepared.”
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