Russian soldier kills 8 in gun attack at Siberian army base

Military conscription is compulsory in Russia for all male citizens aged between 18 and 27. (AFP)
Updated 25 October 2019

Russian soldier kills 8 in gun attack at Siberian army base

  • Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said the shooter was a conscript named Ramil Shamsutdinov and launched a murder case
  • Brutal hazing rituals were a major problem in the Russian army in the 1990s but this has significantly improved in recent years

MOSCOW: A Russian soldier on Friday opened fire on troops at a Siberian military base, killing eight and injuring two, officials said, blaming the attack on a possible “nervous breakdown.”
The incident took place at an army base in the Chita region in eastern Siberia during a change of guard.
“The serviceman who opened fire has been detained,” the defense ministry said in a statement.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said the shooter was a conscript named Ramil Shamsutdinov and launched a murder case.
The base is located in the town of Gorny which is closed to all outsiders without a special permit and is managed by the Ministry of Defense directorate responsible for maintaining Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
Officials claimed the incident was not work related.
“The actions of the serviceman could be the result of a nervous breakdown caused by personal circumstances not connected to his military duty,” the defense ministry said, quoted by Russian news agencies.
The wounded were hospitalized, the ministry said.
Andrei Kurochkin, the deputy chairman of soldiers rights organization Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, said that in general such cases of mass murder are the result of abuse and total desperation.
“Commanders just close their eyes to cases of systematic bullying,” he told AFP.
Senior officers leave victims with no means of complaining by confiscating their phones and overseeing all conversations with relatives, he said.
“They say it’s to protect state secrets, but in reality that’s the last priority,” he said.
When such cases are probed, “investigators come to the base and interview soldiers who have already been briefed on what to say,” Kurochkin said.
State news agency TASS, quoting a source, said two of the victims were officers, while the rest were conscripts and contract servicemen.
TASS said the two wounded were in a serious condition and would probably be flown to Moscow for treatment.
A commission chaired by Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kartapolov was on its way to the base.
A defense ministry spokesman declined to comment when reached by AFP.
Brutal hazing rituals were a major problem in the Russian army in the 1990s but this has significantly improved in recent years.
Military conscription is compulsory in Russia for all male citizens aged between 18 and 27.


Former Unaoil managers convicted in Britain of Iraq bribery

Updated 13 July 2020

Former Unaoil managers convicted in Britain of Iraq bribery

  • The verdict marks a milestone in the British arm of a 4-year, global inquiry

LONDON: Two former managers of Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil have been convicted in Britain of bribing Iraqi officials to clinch lucrative oil projects as the war-ravaged country tried to boost exports after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The verdict marks a milestone in the British arm of a four-year, global inquiry into how Unaoil, once run by the prominent Ahsani family, helped major Western companies secure energy projects across the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa over two decades.
A London jury found British-Lebanese Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former Iraq territory manager, and Stephen Whiteley, a British former manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, guilty of plotting to make corrupt payments to secure oil contracts between 2005 and 2010.
But after a marathon 19 days of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case against Paul Bond, a British one-time Middle East sales manager for Dutch-based oil and gas services company SBM Offshore. He faces a retrial, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed on Monday.
The three men denied any wrongdoing.
The judge lifted reporting restrictions on Monday after a drawn-out trial that was suspended in March as the coronavirus brought parts of the criminal justice system to a halt, and restarted in May in a new court to allow jurors to socially distance.
“These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state,” said SFO head Lisa Osofsky following the verdicts against Akle and Whiteley.
“They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.”
The agency has now secured three convictions in the case after Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil’s 71-year-old former country manager for Iraq, pleaded guilty last year.
The principal suspects in the case, brothers Cyrus and Saman Ahsani, evaded British investigators and pleaded guilty to bribery in the United States after an extradition battle in Italy in 2018.
Akle, 45, Whiteley, 65, and Al Jarah will be sentenced on July 22 and 23, the SFO said.
BRIBERY
Prosecutors said the defendants had conspired with others to pay bribes to public officials at the Iraqi South Oil Company and, in Al Jarah’s case, Iraqi Ministry of Oil representatives, to secure oil contracts for Unaoil and its clients.
Al Jarah admitted to paying more than $6 million in bribes to secure contracts worth $800 million to supply oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys. Akle and Whiteley were found guilty of paying more than $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55 million contract for offshore mooring buoys.
In his defense, Akle said payments were authorized for security purposes. Whiteley denied knowing about payments but said he wanted a “level playing field” during a competitive tender.
A lawyer for Whiteley was unable to comment and legal representatives for Akle and Bond did not immediately respond to requests for comment.