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Probe Into Embassy Shooting

Military prosecutors in Moscow launched a criminal probe Tuesday into how a Russian soldier sneaked into the U.S. Embassy compound and was shot and wounded by a Marine guard.

The soldier, 19-year-old Yevgeny Ivanov, broke into the compound Monday evening and tried to take a car, which he then crashed, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday. A U.S. Marine guard was involved in the shooting, said an embassy spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified.

"He was warned several times to stop. He was subdued by force," said an embassy statement.

At the Sklifosofsky Hospital, director general Alexander Yermolov said Tuesday that the Russian soldier suffered five bullet wounds to his cheek, jaw, chest and forearm and was in stable condition following an operation.

The Foreign Ministry said Ivanov was accompanied by another soldier from his unit, whom it identified as 22-year-old Yevgeny Tailakov. It said Tailakov stayed outside the embassy fence during the incident, fled and was detained about two hours later.
Both soldiers had deserted their military construction unit, according to Russian news reports. The Foreign Ministry said they were heavily intoxicated at the time of the incident.

U.S. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the driver aimed the car at an embassy guard, who jumped on the hood. Diplomatic security agents ordered the driver in Russian and English to stop, but the driver refused and rammed several vehicles including the ambassador's limousine, Rubin said.

The driver then drove the car into an occupied guard booth and tried to run down the guard as he fled, at which point "several shots were fired at the driver," Rubin said, without specifying who fired the shots.

The military prosecutor's office in Moscow said it had opened a criminal probe against Ivanov on suspicion of stealing a vehicle. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison, while desertion may add to his term.

In a statement cited by the Interfax news agency, the prosecutor's office said there were no immediate reasons to suspect "that the U.S. Marine who opened fire at the soldier had acted inadequately."

The shooting was the latest in a series of security incidents around the embassy, an imposing yellow and white building which faces the busy Garden Ring thoroughfare not far from the Kremlin.

On March 28, 1999, gunmen armed with grenade-launchers and an assault rifle sprayed gunfire at the main building before being driven off by police firing pistols.

The attack was believed linked to protests against NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia and followed several days of noisy demonstrations during which protesters pelted the embassy with eggs and paint.

In September 1995, an attacker fired a rocket-propelled grenade into an empty embassy office less than a month after a bomb was found and dismantled near the building. Another bomb damaged a ar near the embassy about a year ago following telephone threats over U.S. attacks on Iraq.