RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin has killed his deputy prime minister, the Russian ambassador to the United States, and two other senior Russian diplomats, in a shooting spree that authorities said appeared to be connected to the U.S. election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the inauguration ceremony of the new Federal Administration building in Moscow, Russia, January 8, 2021.
Putin also sacked the head of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the top officer of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and his wife and son, officials said, in what is the biggest security crisis since Putin took power in 2000.
Putin said the killings were connected to “foreign meddling in our internal affairs” and “foreign interference in the affairs of our neighbors and partners.”
The Russian leader also said he was suspending a visit to the US, the last stop on a long-planned trip to the region, and was “receiving orders from God” to “take preventive measures,” according to state media.
The Interior Ministry in the eastern Russian city of Novosibirsk said the gunmen were shot at around 11:30 a.m. local time and that there were no reports of casualties.
A statement by the ministry said a “Russian citizen” and his Russian wife were among the dead.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the victims included a Russian ambassador and two Russian diplomats from the U, U.K., and Canada.
Putin was in the country on Friday for a trip to Moscow, the spokesman said.
Putin, a former KGB spy and ex-military general, was elected to a second term in February.
He has vowed to crush any foreign threat to Russia, including the “filth” that has spread in his country through the election.
He also faces a constitutional challenge for using the presidential office to appoint Russian citizens to key posts in the government.
He denies the charges and the court has suspended the trial until March 2018.