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Russian private who killed eight other soldiers writes letter from jail

Private Ramil Shamsutdinov, who killed eight other Russian servicemembers and severely injured two in an October shooting, has written a letter in pretrial detention that was subsequently posted online. After a photograph of the letter appeared in a VKontakte group called Save Private Ramil Shamsutdinov, the soldier’s father and attorney both confirmed its authenticity.

In the letter, Shamsutdinov thanked his supporters, asked for forgiveness from the shooting victims’ families, and expressed remorse for his actions. However, he wrote that he saw no other way out of his situation because he couldn’t “bear the harassment anymore.”

Shamsutdinov has said he acted in response to hazing at his military base. In December, he was named the victim in a military harassment case; one of his fellow servicemembers pleaded guilty. Shamsutdinov’s unit was dissolved following the shooting, and Russia’s Defense Ministry paid the families of those he killed 6.68 million rubles ($108,965) each.

“I wanted to serve and defend my Motherland. After the [mandatory] service, I wanted to continue being rooted in the army. But I didn’t expect to land in this hell. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to complain. I don’t know myself at what moment I snapped and decided to take extreme measures. It seems as though my self-preservation instinct turned on. Only now have I begun to realize how much grief I brought to people and that I destroyed my own life,” the letter says.

Save Private Ramil Shamsutdinov