Suspect arrested in killing of Russian submarine captain


Associated Press

A 64-year-old man has been arrested in southern Russia for the shooting death of a former submarine commander who is alleged by some in Ukraine to have killed more than 20 civilians in a long-range missile strike last year.

Sergei Denisenko was detained on suspicion of shooting former 2nd Capt. Stanislav Rzhitsky, reportedly during a morning jog in the city of Krasnodar on July 10.

Denisenko was found in possession of a pistol and silencer, officials said. Some Russian media outlets identified him as a native of Sumy, a city in Ukraine.

Rzhitsky, 42, was attacked near the city’s Olimp sports complex where he often followed the same 4-mile path, according to the Russian online news outlet Baza, which didn’t specify the source of its report.

Baza reported that Rzhitsky often posted screenshots from a fitness app, leading to speculation the attacker could have used social media data to track his route. The reports could not be independently verified.

At the time of his death, Rzhitsky was deputy head of military mobilization in the Krasnodar city administration.

Ukrainian media reported that Rzhitsky was one of six submarine commanders able to launch long-range missiles that hit the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia in July 2022, killing 23 people and wounding more than 100.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces’ strategic communications division also said Rzhitsky was involved in carrying out the strike, citing Ukrainian intelligence. In a Telegram post, the division said Rzhitsky was “apparently liquidated by his own (people) for refusing to continue following orders of the command to launch missile attacks on peaceful Ukrainian cities.”

Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s main intelligence directorate, denied any involvement by Kyiv in the attack on Rzhitsky. However, the agency posted details about the killing on its Telegram channel, including the time of the attack, the number of shots fired, and local weather conditions.

Accounts of the killing differed. Ukrainian intelligence said Rzhitsky had been shot seven times, while Russian news outlets Baza and Mash reported he had been shot six times.

Rzhitsky was named commander of the submarine Krasnodar in 2016, and took part in Moscow’s military campaign in Syria, Russian media reported.

His address and other personal details had been posted on the Ukrainian website Myrotvorets — “Peacemaker” in English. The site, which acts as an unofficial database of those considered by its users to be enemies of Ukraine, described Rzhitsky in 2022 as a “Russian war criminal.”

Rzhitsky’s family denies he took part in the invasion, telling Baza he had resigned his post in December 2021. They also said Rzhitsky had been included on the Myrotvorets database as early as 2014, when Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula and took over a submarine based there that once was part of Ukraine’s fleet.

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