Russian authorities claimed they foiled a terrorist attack at the Victory Day parade
Affected Countries: russian-federation;
Russia has claimed it foiled a ‘terrorist attack’ after a soldier clutching a machine gun went berserk at a Victory Day parade in front of Vladimir Putin.
Conscript Nikita Eroshenko, 22, smashed his Soviet-era weapon into three windows of a Federal Security Service vehicle after he was told he would not be marching in front of Putin.
The parade in Moscow marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Footage shows security officers suddenly pouncing on the errant soldier – who was 500 feet away from the President – in a corner of Red Square.
Some accounts say he had been identified by the FSB as a terrorist threat amid the 14,000 troops marching.
The incident on Wednesday came just one day before Russians began casting their ballots in a seven-day vote on sweeping reforms that could clear the way for President Putin to stay in the Kremlin until 2036.
Voters have been promised an increased minimum wage and higher pensions in a package – which would also allow Putin to run for another two six-year terms, an exercise that critics have called a constitutional coup.
A source told Komsomolskaya Pravda: ‘FSB military counterintelligence officers allegedly prevented a serious incident, and even more so – a terrorist attack.’
His gun did not fire during the incident. One report said the weapon was not loaded.
News outlet BAZA reported: ‘Allegedly, right before the start of the parade, FSB counterintelligence officers identified a suspected terrorist who was preparing something during the event on Red Square.’
A criminal case has been opened against Eroshenko, from Kaluga, according to some reports.
One TV report by pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Soloviev suggested the soldier had confessed to a protest aimed at worsening Russia’s ‘international reputation’.
‘It was a protest against the existing regime and the Federal Security Service. I believe that they have acted unfairly against me,’ he was quoted as saying.
However other accounts say the conscript was furious that he had been barred from marching.
An investigator asked him: ‘So you intended to arrange a provocation during the parade?’
The soldier replied in a trembling voice: ‘How is it? What is it?.’
TASS reported: ‘According to preliminary data, the soldier suffered a nervous breakdown.’
This week’s vote is taking place despite concerns in opposition circles over the safety of people voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, worries over voter fraud, and criticism that Putin has already been in power too long.
Russia’s coronavirus tally surged past 600,000 cases on Wednesday, the third-highest in the world, with thousands of new infections being reported every day, although authorities say the novel virus is on the wane.
All necessary safety precautions will be taken during the vote, authorities say
If, as expected, the constitutional changes are approved, Putin would be able to run for two more back-to-back six-year terms after his current one expires in 2024.
The former KGB operative has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999, and has not ruled out running again, but says he has not taken a final decision.
Critics believe he intends to cling to power like elderly Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev who died in office.
Others believe he is keeping his options open so as no to become a lame duck ahead of 2024 and may yet still hand over the reins to a handpicked but currently unknown successor.
‘Since the president did not find a successor, he appointed himself,’ said Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at Carnegie’s Moscow Center think tank.
Supported by state media and facing no immediate threat from a divided opposition, the vote, which is on a large bundle of constitutional changes, is expected to go Putin’s way despite rising unemployment, a coronavirus-battered economy and no real prospect of an economic upswing anytime soon.
Source: Daily Mail