A top Russian military officer reportedly died after being shot five times in his office at a prestigious military academy.
Reports in Russia claim that Col. Vadim Boyko, 44, entered his office at the Makarov Pacific Higher Naval School on Wednesday morning, after which a duty officer heard five gunshots and ran in to find the colonel dead. Authorities found a Makarov pistol and bullet cases next to his body, according to Russian news outlet Pravda.
Some outlets questioned if the colonel had committed suicide, but the lack of a suicide note and the presence of multiple gunshots — and most of them in his chest — have suggested that is unlikely. Criminal investigators continue to work to determine what happened.
Boyko was involved in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization effort to recruit and bolster the military’s forces, and his death will have a “demoralizing” effect on troop morale, according to Russia expert Rebekah Koffler.
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“Whether this is a suicide or an assassination, Col. Boyko’s death is almost certainly extremely demoralizing for the Russian military, especially their troops on the ground,” Koffler, a Russian-born former US Defense Intelligence Agency officer and author of “Putin’s Playbooktold Fox News Digital.
“Any serving Russian military officer is now in an untenable position because they know that sooner or later they will be deployed into the theatre, which is pretty much a death sentence, with the way this war is unfolding, and that is a hard truth to accept for the soldiers and their families,” Koffler said. “It is why scores of Russian military-age men are fleeing the country and some probably even hurt themselves, in order to avoid mobilization.”
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“Back in the USSR, we had young men go as far as giving themselves a concussion to avoid serving in the military, which was mandatory,” she continued. “It was a catch 22 as well – you either had to go fight in Afghanistan and or be subjected to brutal hazing, which is very common in the Soviet and now Russian Army. Very little has changed in that regard, since the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
Following a successful counteroffensive from Ukraine, Putin announced a partial mobilization of the armed forces, which allowed him to begin drafting Russian men to serve in the increasingly depleted military.
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Putin claimed that conscription is “fully adequate to the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories,” but the effort proved immensely unpopular.
Neighboring countries saw a surge in migration as Russian men fled the country in order to avoid the draft and fighting in Ukraine.
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Another officer, Lt. Col. Roman Malyk, 49, was found dead on a fence in the same region last month, according to the Daily Mail. Malyk was in charge of enlistment for the mobilization effort.
Investigators ruled his death a likely suicide although his friends and family disputed that finding.