Conscripts trigger wave of gun violence in Russia-Ukraine border villages

Istanbul: Gun crime in Russia has risen by nearly a third in the past ten months as Russian regions bordering Ukraine reported a flurry of shoot-outs involving recently mobilised men.

Russia recorded about 5000 offences involving firearms, ammunition and explosives between January and October this year, a 30 per cent increase on the same period last year, police data published last week showed.

Russian recruits stand waiting to take a train at a railway station in Prudboi, Volgograd region of Russia.Credit:AP

Gun crime has skyrocketed since the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s partial military mobilisation, which triggered attacks on military recruitment offices and shoot-outs involving military men and poorly trained conscripts.

In Moscow this year, the number of offences involving firearms doubled. But the impact of the war was most clear in the Kursk and Belgorod regions bordering Ukraine, where gun crime increased sixfold and twofold respectively, the police data showed.

Vladimir Mikhalevich, of the Kremlin-friendly charity group Officers of Russia, sought to blame the rise in gun crime on “anxiety” caused by the war in Ukraine and shelling in Russian border villages in particular.

“Everyone is probably trying to stock up on weapons already,” he told the Govorit Moskva radio station. “When there is a threat of bombing, people get scared.”

The data suggested the black market for weapons has been burgeoning since the invasion of Ukraine began in February, with police reporting that theft and extortion of firearms, ammunition and explosives rose by 12 per cent in the first 10 months of the year.

Across Russia, dozens of military recruitment offices have been attacked with Molotov cocktails and explosives in one of the few desperate ways for Russian men to protest against the war.

Drunken brawls between military men that were mostly reported in Russian-occupied Ukraine early on in the war have spilt over to Russia since the mobilisation began. Earlier this month, a gunman killed 11 mobilised men at a training ground near Ukraine.

In one of the most widely reported incidents, ammunition for an anti-tank grenade launcher blew up in a car in Moscow in May.

Police said the car’s owner had been doing charity work in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine and brought it home as a souvenir.

Telegraph, London

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