CHITA, Russia — Private Ramil Shamsutdinov, who is accused of murdering eight fellow servicemen last year in what he claims was the result of his brutal hazing in the Russian Army, has called the incident a “tragedy.”
Shamsutdinov said during his final statement at the high-profile trial in the Siberian city of Chita, on December 23 that he regretted what happened in October 2019, when he allegedly went on a shooting spree, killing eight military servicemen, including two high-ranking officers, in the town of Gorny in the Zabaikalye region.
“The circumstances I found myself led me to the situation that caused the tragedy. I did not want it. I did not understand myself how it happened. I regret what I did. There is nothing else I can say,” Shamsutdinov said.
Shamsutdinov, who was charged with murder and attempted murder, went on trial on November 23.
Two witnesses testified at the trial that Shamsutdinov had endured torture and beatings by other soldiers and officers during his hazing in the service.
Shamsutdinov’s lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL that his client’s verdict and sentence will be pronounced on December 24.
The case shocked many in Russia and attracted the attention of rights activists after Shamsutdinov claimed that he committed the act while suffering a nervous breakdown caused by the brutal hazing and torture he had endured.
The Defense Ministry accepted at the time that Shamsutdinov “had a conflict” with one of the officers he killed. In March, Private Ruslan Mukhatov was found guilty of bullying Shamsutdinov and was handed a suspended two-year prison term.
Deadly shootings in Russian military units as the result of wide-spread hazing have been a focus of human rights organizations for years.
In November, a soldier at a military air base in the western region of Voronezh shot an officer and two soldiers dead.
In recent years, photos and video footage have been posted online by members of the Russian military that show the severe bullying of young recruits as they are inducted into the army.