Russia Update: 23 Soldiers Killed, 19 Injured After Military Barracks Collapse In Omsk

July 13, 2015
Collapsed barracks at Russian Airborne Troops training center in Omsk on July 12, 2015. Screen grab from video via LifeNews

A building collapsed at the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) training center in Omsk, killing 12 soldiers and injuring 19. Eleven troops are still missing, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has flown to the scene.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Special features:

‘I Was on Active Duty’: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov
Meet The Russian Fighters Building A Base Between Mariupol And Donetsk
‘There Was No Buk in Our Field’
With Cash and Conspiracy Theories, Russian Orthodox Philanthropist Malofeyev is Useful to the Kremlin

Russia This Week:

Is ‘Novorossiya’ Really Dead?
From Medal of Valor to Ubiquitous Propaganda Symbol: the History of the St. George Ribbon
What Happened to the Slow-Moving Coup?
Can We Be Satisfied with the Theory That Kadyrov Killed Nemtsov?
All the Strange Things Going On in Moscow

Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation toward our costs‏.


Unidentified Attackers Break Neck of Prominent Human Rights Activist and Opposition Journalist in Buryatia

Human rights activist and opposition journalist Yevgeny Khamaganov was beaten yesterday by unidentified assailants who broke his neck in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Buryat Autonomous Republic, TV Rain reported.


Photo by

Khamaganov was found by neighbors near the entrance to his home, another activist Dorzho Dugarov wrote on his Facebook page today.

was taken unconscious to the neurosurgery department of the Republic
Hospital in Ulan-Udea and has been diagnosed with a fracture of his
cervical vertebra. Dugarov said a complicated operation is anticipated. A local paper said his life was in danger.

to Dugarov, the attackers came up from behind and hit Khamaganov over
the heady with a heavy object, then struck him in the head several more
times. No criminal case has yet to be opened into the attack.

Khamaganov, the editor-in-chief of Asia-Russia Daily
and Yabloko party member, had created an opposition forum called the
Buryat People’s Site and was one of the founders of the Buryat youth
human rights movement called Erkhe. Last year he praised the organizers of a beauty pageant who established a consolation prize for a Buryat woman who participated in a beauty pageant and was targeted by racist remarks.

He was known for his criticism of
the republic’s government and president and support of free speech. He
has been threatened for his work repeatedly since 2006.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Truck Explodes In West Of Moscow, Initial Reports Say Fuel Tank Blew Up

Russia’s LifeNews reports that a truck has exploded in Moscow.

According to initial reports, one person has been killed and two have been hospitalised with traumatic injuries.

The news channel, which is suspected of having close ties to the state security services, reports that the trucks fuel tank had exploded.

Police and ambulance crews are on the scene outside number 20 Marshal Proshlyakov street, in the western Strogino district.

Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that the blast occurred opposite the Zenit Plaza business centre. 

— Pierre Vaux

UK Bank Freezes Accounts of Rossiya Segodnya, Russian Media Holding Company, Owner of

The British Barclays bank has frozen the accounts of Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), the media holding company that owns and other state media, RIA Novosti reported.

A representative of Barclays stated that the account was closed and refused to provide the reasons or any other information about the closure.

But a source in the banking community said that the British Treasury has placed Dmitry Kiselyev, general director of Rossiya Segodnya on the list of persons sanctioned over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which could lead to financial restrictions on the holding company. Rossiya Segodnya has not received any official notice about the closure.

Kiselyev called the move “censorship.”

Russian assets and accounts were also frozen in France and Belgium last month in compliance with a decision of the arbitration court in the Hague regarding the YUKOS case. Russia is obliged under this court ruling to pay $50 billion in damages to various YUKOS shareholders. Rossiya Segodnya was among the companies with assets frozen in these EU countries.

Russian officials have said they will contest the ruling.

YUKOS was acquired by Mikhail Khodorkovsky during the controversial “loans for shares” program of the 1990s. Khodorkovsky then opposed the increasing authoritarianism of President Vladimir Putin and was arrested on charges of tax fraud in 2003 and ultimately served 10 years in prison before his pardon in 2014. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that there had been unfair use of the legal and tax system when the government seized YUKOS.

Khodorkovsky gave up his shares in the company at the time of his arrest and will not personally benefit from the court ruling.

(Note: The Interpreter is a project of Institute for Modern Russia, funded by Pavel Khodorkovsky, the son of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.)

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The State of Gay Rights In Russia In One Video
The Guardian’s Alec Luhn shares this video:

The two men are physically confronted on two occasions. What is more surprising, perhaps, is the frequency of the verbal assaults and the ubiquitous sideways glances the two men receive from a surprisingly-large percentage of those whom they encounter on the street.

The Russian government has helped fuel an atmosphere which is hostile to the LGBT community by passing laws against “homosexual propaganda,” an arbitrary law which could be used to target anything that can be seen as promoting the ‘homosexual lifestyle,’ and a law which can also be used to target those who advocate for greater rights for the LGBT community.

James Miller

23 Russian Soldiers Killed, Another 19 Injured, As Roof Collapses At Siberian Barracks

Earlier (below) we reported on the collapse of an army barracks at the Omsk Airborne Troops Training Center in Siberia. The Guardian and other news outlets now say that the death toll has risen to 23, with 19 injured, 10 of them seriously.

Rescuers searched for hours for victims trapped under the debris of an airborne troops training centre in Omsk after the collapse in the early hours of Monday morning.

See below for additional pictures and details.

James Miller

Update: 18 Russian Soldiers Die, 19 Injured, 5 Missing in Building Collapse at Omsk Airborne Troops Training Center

Twelve Russian soldiers have been killed and 19 hospitalized  in a building collapse at the Omsk Airborne Troops Training Center, Novaya Gazeta reported.

UPDATE:  RIA Novosti reported that 18 soldiers had died in the building collapse, 37 had been rescued and 5 were still missing.

The roof of the four-story training center of the Airborne Troops (known by their initials “VDV” in Russian) collapsed on the night of July 12. A total of 337 soldiers were in the building, and most of them managed to escape.

The Defense Ministry reported to Interfax that 12 soldiers’ bodies had been extracted from the ruins, 21 servicemen were rescued and of these 19 had been taken to the hospital. Defense Ministry official Igor Konashenkov said the military was still looking for 11 missing troops.

Emergency medical brigades bringing special equipment have arrived from hospitals in Burdenko, Vishnevsky and Mandryk to assist with first aid.

Parents of the troops were brought to the training center where psychologists are working with them.

The reason for the collapse could be violations of the building code when repairs were made recently. Prosecutors have opened an investigation on charges of neglect.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was on leave, flew to the area.

Translation: Shoigu interrupted his vacation due to the collapse of the barracks in Omsk.

He ordered all the other buildings at the Omsk training center to be inspected, reported.

NTV said according to Spetsstroi, a government construction agency, capital repairs were recently made to the building by Remeksstroi, Ltd., which is registered in Nizhny Novgorod and had signed a sub-contract after a competitive bid. Konashenkov said the utility lines, floors, ceilings were repaired and the windows replaced. The prosecutor ruled out a gas line explosion as there was no gas line in the building.

Translation: A criminal case has been opened based on the fact of the collapse of the barracks in Omsk.

Translation: The first video of the collapse of the barracks outside Omsk has appeared.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick