January 28, 2023

Istanbul: Gun crime in Russia has risen by nearly a third in the past 10 months as Russian regions bordering Ukraine reported a spate of gunfights involving recently mobilized men.

Russia recorded about 5,000 firearms, ammunition and explosives violations between January and October this year, a 30 percent increase from the same period last year, police data released last week showed.

Russian recruits wait to board a train at a train station in Prudboi, Volgograd region of Russia.Credit:AP

Gun crime has skyrocketed since the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s partial military mobilization, which led to attacks on military recruiting offices and shootings involving military personnel and poorly trained conscripts.

In Moscow, the number of firearm offenses has doubled this year. But the impact of the war was most apparent in the Kursk and Belgorod regions bordering Ukraine, where gun crime has increased sixfold and doubled respectively, police data showed.

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

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

The data suggested that the black market for guns has exploded since the invasion of Ukraine began in February, with police reporting the theft and extortion of firearms, ammunition and explosives rose 12 percent in the first 10 months of the year.

Dozens of military recruiting offices across Russia have been attacked with Molotov cocktails and explosives, one of the few desperate ways for Russian men to protest the war.

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