Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Crossing a Line -- Russian Crowd Attacks Military in Transbaikal and Soldiers Shoot Back

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 28 – Last night, a group of Russians at the Petrovsky Zavod station in the Transbaikal attacked a group of Russian soldiers who, after firing warning shots into the air, shot directly into the crowd killing one and injuring several others (life.ru/t/новости/1147032/miestnyie_zhitieli_napali_na_voinskii_eshielon_v_zabaikalskom_kraie).

            According to the news service, there had been a fight between soldiers and local people in a bar during which the civilians had attacked the soldiers with knives. The service reported that the local man who was later killed by the soldiers was a convicted criminal. It did not specify whether all the others involved were.

            Later reports played up on the criminal aspect of the local population, suggesting that the clash had happened because professional criminals were celebrating a birthday and things got out of hand and stressing that the soldiers had acted appropriately (znak.com/2018-08-28/v_zabaykale_blatnye_prazdnuya_den_rozhdeniya_napali_na_voennyh_imeninnik_zastrelen).

            However that may be, for ordinary citizens to attack a military unit and for the soldiers to fire back and kill one of their attackers are extraordinary events, and within a few hours, the story went viral. Yandex reported that there have been more than 120 stories in Russian outlets (news.yandex.ru/yandsearch?text=напасть+на+воинский+эшелон&rpt=nnews2&grhow=clutop).

            At the very least, both the civilian attack and the military response, on the one hand, and the coverage, on the other, underscores how tense relations are between the Russian military and the Russian population at least in some places in Russia and the willingness of some Russians to take actions that in more settled times would have been completely unthinkable.

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